Editorial: Maize maze

Non-availability of maize has hit poultry farmers hard. Taking the matter to the attention of the Centre, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday, urging him to permit poultry farmers to import maize to tide over the present crisis. The import duty levied for such imports may also be waived as a special case, he said. “As you know, Tamilnadu is at the forefront of poultry production in the country, with a poultry population of about 11.73 crore. Tamilnadu produced 4 lakh metric tonnes of poultry meat during 2017-18. Tamilnadu has been witnessing a cumulative growth percentage of 23.5 per cent in egg production and 30.53 per cent in poultry meat production during the period 2013-14 to 2017-18,” he said.

According to the Chief Minister, commercial poultry rearing is practised in the districts of Namakkal, Salem, Erode, Tirupur and Coimbatore which have approximately 1,000 to 1,300 layer farms of various capacities that house about 3.5 to 4 crore layer birds. The number of broiler birds reared is of the order of 50 crore live birds/annum. The Government of Tamilnadu, he said, is also actively encouraging rearing of native chicken in a cluster-based approach as a livelihood proposition which also addresses the nutritive requirements of the household. “Tamilnadu is the fourth largest producer of broilers and second largest egg producer in India,” he said.

Due to these facts, Palaniswami said the poultry feed requirement of Tamilnadu is 1.38 million tonnes for broiler and 1.97 million tonnes for layer sector which is the largest in India followed by the States of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Haryana & Punjab. “The primary ingredient in poultry feed is maize. Maize accounts for 47 per cent of total poultry feed consumed. Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh are high maize producing States in the country. Unfortunately, recently maize crops were affected by Fall Army Worm, a pest that has affected over 2.20 lakh hectares of maize crop out of the 3.55 lakh hectares sown in Tamilnadu State in 2018-19. The pest had also affected maize crops in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. Consequently, the production of maize has been severely hampered leading to sky rocketing of prices of maize, thereby putting the poultry farmers to great hardship in sourcing maize for poultry feed.” To reign in the price of maize and prevent the rise in production cost, selling cost and purchasing cost of eggs and poultry meat, maize needs to be imported from maize-producing countries. The Centre should take immediate measures in this regard.