Poultry farmers in India seek $ 2.7 billion after fear of virus

The Indian poultry industry is badly in need of money after the price drop earlier this year amid stoked social media speculation that chickens could spread the coronavirus, according to one of the country’s largest producers.

Farm chicken prices fell 70% in March from January, forcing farmers to slaughter large numbers and causing huge losses, said Suresh Chitturi, vice president and general manager of Srinivasa Farms Pvt. Prices have now returned to just above production costs, but banks are still unwilling to lend, he said in a telephone interview.

Farmers need up to 200 billion rupees ($ 2.7 billion) in loans, Chitturi said. Bank financing is crucial for the $ 14 billion industry which directly or indirectly employs 5 million people and supports 25 million producers. With an annual production of 95 billion eggs, India ranks second in the world, according to Chitturi.

The novel coronavirus is believed to originate in bats and has spread to humans via an yet-to-be-identified mammalian host intermediate. Nearly two dozen animal species are known to be susceptible to infection. Still, health officials say there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in the spread of the virus and consider the risk of them doing so to be low.

“We don’t want any freebie,” said Chitturi, who is also the chairman of the International Egg Commission. “We just need the money to develop and we will pay the money back. We have seen an increase in demand and prices recently. Are also good due to a shortage of supplies,” he said. .

The industry will not survive if it does not get the funding as there is a risk of default on existing loans totaling up to Rs 250 billion, Chitturi said. “We have been beaten by rumors that nearly killed the poultry business. I would make a lot of money if I was in the United States or China because people eat more poultry to get a good protein intake, ”he said.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, chicken meat consumption in India is declining by around 8% from a year earlier to a three-year low of around 4 million tonnes in 2020. In contrast, the Demand in China is likely to increase by 11% to a record high of over 15 million tonnes, while US consumption is expected to reach a record high of over 17 million tonnes, he said.

This story was posted from an agency feed with no text editing. Only the title has been changed.

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