Poultry Sector has become more responsive to the minutes scare that floats in the market. Here, the player constantly affrays to provide safe, sterile and quality chicken and chicken products to its consumers. Recently, the virus “bird flu” impacted the poultry sector in India and abroad on a massive scale

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Poultry Sector Overcomes bird Flu

November 16−30th, 2008
Poultry Sector has become more responsive to the minutes scare that floats in the market. Here, the player constantly affrays to provide safe, sterile and quality chicken and chicken products to its consumers. Recently, the virus “bird flu” impacted the poultry sector in India and abroad on a massive scale.

With increasing number of multi nationals and FDI in fod processing sector, the Indian poultry industy is also becoming the chicken factory of the world. B. Soundararajan, managing director, Suguna Poultry Farm Ltd. Shares his view on present situation and future of poultry sector in e-mail interview with Hasan Mulani of food and Beverage news.

How big is the poultry sector in India / And how much is the organized sector?
The Indian broiler industry is 6th largest in the world with a growth rate of about 12% to 15% per annnum. The existing size of the Indian poultry Industry is estimated at Rs 20,000 crore and expected to achieve 80,000 crore by 2020.

At present, the Indian consumption of poultry meat is 95 % live market whereas the processed meat accont only for 5 %.

With Vast majority of population being vegetarians, what is the growth potential for the industry?
Meat is an unaffordable food item for the poor man. However, with rising affluence more people are consuming non vegetarian, particularly poultry meat. The consumption has gone up and will continue to increase in future.

The per capita consumption of poultry meat in India is only 2.2 Kg per person as compared to world average of 11 Kg per peson as compared to world average of 11 Kg. the per capita consumption is growing at 10 % per year and expected to double in coming five years.

The emergence of integrators has helped to improve the production efficiency through large scale economies and also resulted to eased poultry prices over the years, thereby boosting consumption.

The processed meat market is growing at 15 % to 20 % per year. The industry is fuelled by a booming retail sector. Rising incomes through young and urbanizing population along with increasing domestic demand are expected to be the main drivers of this growth.

Egg and chicken prices are soaring and touched a record high. What is your justification for hiking the prices?
Like every food & beverage industry, poultry is also sensitive to the market conditions. In recent time, raw material costs have gone up tremendously in the last couple of years. The prices for primary feed like corn is almost doubled, as a result the production cost of poultry meat and eggs have increased dreastically.

What are the problems hampheringthe Industry? With grain prices rising, poultry feddd would be costly too. How do you propose to overcome this as feed is the main cost incurred in poultry units?
Poultry integration with good management practices, focus on better feed conversion and better production efficiencies is the immediate answer to these challenges. At every step of integration value chain, from feed to farm and to the distribution, we look for improvmrnts in cost and productivity.

Our R&D departments also approach the issues in a scientific way for feed formulation and farm & feed management techniques. We also introduce the technique to farmers through training and communication programs. Better distribution system processing, packaging and establishing cold chain system will help us a long way in controlling indirect costs and better realization for the poultry meat.

The governments can support the poultry industry by encouraging more maize cultivation which will help reduce the feed cost, creating export oriented poultry SEZs and tax benefits and subsidized loans to poultry farmers.

Who are the major players and what is the share of Suguna in the domestic markets?
With a turnover of Rs 5775 crore, Suguna leads in Indian broiler production ( weekly production of 80 lakh chickens). Other major national player is Venkateshwara Hatcheries. There are also other small regional players. Suguna is the largest player with a market share of over 20 %.

Bird flu during the last couple of years has badly affected exports. What is the situation at present?
Currently exports are happening normal. We have regular export orders. Many countries have started importing poultry products from India thereby, the opportunities for exports increased.

If the avian influenza strike again is the company prepared to face the situation?
The industry and the government is well prepared to tackle the situation. He government ensures that the birds within the prescribed radius are culled immediately ensuring that virus doe snot spread. With regular inspection of farms and postmortem of mortalities, we can detect any threat early on and resolve it.

There are vaccines available overseas however these are currently not allowed in the country because the government has the situation to control bird flu in India.

What are the other safety measures you follow in the poultry industry?
At Suguna we follow stringent bio security measures at all our facilities and farms to minimize the risk of pathogens entering. There are strict management practices that are implemented through out the value chain, right from the handling of the eggs, chick, feed and the farm management. All our practices and procedures are audited by ISO and have scientific approach combined with sound management.

A team of farm supervisors and veterinarians inspect each farm on regular basis and they are supported by R&D and technical management team headed by general managers of health and feed.

We minimize visitors to facilities and even those who enter , undergoes standards cleansing measures such as baths , sprays , change of clothes , mask, cap and gloves. The staff handling bird at a sensitive stage such as hatching undergoes the same measures. An access to parent and grand parent are restricted and monitored with extra precautions in bio security.

Most of the poultry farms are run in most unhygienic way and cruel to birds, what steps can be taken to improve the situation?
At Suguna our main focus is on bio security and hygiene. All contact farms and own facilities are managed through strict management practices and standard operating procedures. Our field supervisors visit every farm on the daily basis to check on the farm, feed and bird management and have hands on approach, working with the farm owner or supervisors to identify issues and addres them. The poultry integrators bring strong management principles to the largely unorganized sector, and standardize operations across the country.

The hygiene is directly related to bird health and productivity so we take a lot of care to ensure that hygiene practices are followed at all facilities and farms , at all the stages from disinfecting, to daily management , feed production and management, mandatory time gaps in cycles between one batch of birds leaving the farm and the next batch arriving.

We also constantly monitor the pathogen levels in the water and environment. Chicks are given only treated water and are kept only in the most hygienic and environmentally protected conditions .The standards are set right from the kind of litter used, the shed size ,location, water to every aspect of poultry management, so it is safe to say that poultry integrators such as Suguna keep the bird in a most hygienic and healthy way.

What are your suggestions for the huge unorganized sector to improve quality and safety?
There is a vast difference in quality and management of the farms in the unorganized sector compared to organized sector.Regardless of whether they are individual farmers or integrators, hygien, bio - security and good management practices are mandatory to improve quality and safety. The education and training of the farmers and the field staff go a long way to help them understand the reasons behind the set of procedures and thereby convincing them of its importance and to follow it everyday.

The poultry producers need to think of the long term gains and not short term. Giving proper and adequate high quality fed, water, environment conditions and health inspections determine the health and weight gain of the bird. Any discrepancies in this will result in lower productivity. So rather than focusing on cost cutting, the key is to optimize productivity i.e to find an ideal balance between cost and inputs for better yield.

We are energizing rural India and are proud to say that our vision has come a long way. Today, suguna reaches the height of 5775 crores turnover.
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