- Sometime in the late 1960s, some of those involved in the transport business in Namakkal entered poultry farming, operating from thatched sheds.
- Over the years, many more entered the business. By the 1990s, the town was bustling with more than 5,000 poultry farms.
- Post-modernisation, these poultry farms moved into multi-storey buildings in the late 1990s. As a result, people who ran small-scale poultry farms disappeared, and the number of poultry farms fell from 5,000 to 1,100.
- However, the number of eggs produced increased because each flock could handle 10,000 to 2,00,000 birds.
- Today, Namakkal is popularly known as Egg City or Poultry Town and is the second largest egg producer in India, next to Andhra Pradesh.
- The 1,100 poultry farms produce five crore to six crore eggs a day and employ thousands of workers directly and indirectly.
- As the business expanded, the government established the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC) in Namakkal to ensure poultry farmers got a fair price, eliminating middlemen. In 1985, for the benefit of the industry, a government veterinary college was opened in Namakkal.
- According to Valsan Parameswaran, secretary, All India Poultry Products Exporters Association (AIPPEA), in the late 1990s, around one crore eggs were produced from Namakkal poultry farms daily; the number increased to 3.5 crore in 2014-15, and now it is five to six crore eggs.
- In terms of exports, Namakkal tops the country, handling 95% of its table egg exports. To export an egg, it should have 52-55 grams of weight; only then would it be easy to pack and transport. Every poultry farm can produce 20%-25% of their eggs for export. The main importer of Namakkal eggs is the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Every month, around eight crore eggs are exported from Namakkal to Muscat, Qatar, Dubai and South Africa.
- Parameswaran says that now, for the first time, eggs are being exported to Malaysia from the region.
- Because of Russia’s war with Ukraine, Malaysia is struggling to get feed for the birds in its poultry farms, and egg production cost has also increased. “
- As India is a nearby supplier, we get orders to export eggs from Namakkal. Regular consignment began last month, with an initial quantum of four crore eggs per month (50 lakh eggs per week), bringing the total number of eggs exported from Namakkal to 12 crores per month,” he says. Since egg consumption is high in Malaysia, he hopes, the export business will grow in the coming months.
- Another reason that makes egg exports feasible from Namakkal is that it is able to gather eggs from areas in a 60-km radius and send the eggs in freezer containers to the Tuticorin, Kochi and Chennai harbours.
- The eggs exported are certified by the Poultry Disease Diagnosis and Surveillance Laboratory, the Animal Quarantine and Certification Services, and the Exports Inspection Council of India.
Pandemic keeps profits down
- The chairman of the Tamil Nadu Egg Poultry Farmers Marketing Society, Vangli Subramaniam, says that after the two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, the profits are not high.
- There has been an increase in poultry feed cost. “It is a world-wide scenario…the feed rate for the birds has increased from 40% to 80%.
- However, owing to the Russia-Ukraine war, we now get some additional orders from foreign countries,” he said.
- For producing an egg, approximately ₹4.50 to ₹4.70 is spent, and it is sold at ₹4.85.
- A long-pending demand of the poultry industry is to declare Namakkal an avian influenza disease-free zone because if bird flu breaks out in any part of the country, it will affect egg exports from Namakkal, Mr. Subramaniam says, urging the Central and State governments to intervene.
SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB