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Egg exporters cash in on avian flu fears — Disease-free poultry farming helps gain advantage in global market

G. Gurumurthy

Coimbatore , Oct. 28

THE fear of the Asia-originated avian flu instances have forced the European Union clamping imports of birds. But, the domestic poultry has taken advantage of the situation to expand its export terrain.

The Tamil Nadu-based layer bird growers are set to upstage another milestone in the export of table eggs this year, thanks to the opportunity evolving to tap newer export markets. The domestic poultry sector expects that the disease-free poultry farming in India, as opposed to the reports of avian influenza in the South-East Asian nations such as Thailand and Vietnam, would kick up demand for poultry products comprising both table egg and chicken meat in the coming days.

"The layer sector in Namakkal zone which already accounts for 70 per cent of table egg exports has recently floated a separate forum, the All India Poultry Products Exporters Association with its headquarters in Namakkal, and the new association would provide export facilitation to the poultry farmers in the region," said Dr P. Selvaraj, Chairman of the Namakkal Zonal committee of the National Egg Coordination Committee.

Dr Selvaraj, a noted player in both layer and broiler farming besides owning a leading hatchery, said the broiler sector from the South has recently blazed a new trail in exports by registering with the Japanese Government for export of chicken meat. This, according to him, would pave way for the region's broiler industry to export for the first time to a sophisticated market like Japan.

"The new association is now working with the APEDA to get the Japanese Government clearance for export of table eggs, too, from India," Dr Selvaraj told Business Line. He added that with scope for further widening the export market for the table eggs, the shell egg export from the region is poised to go up by 50 per cent over last year's levels.

Namakkal layer zone comprising Namakkal, Rasipuram, Sankari and Erode, accounting for daily shell egg production of around 1.3 crore units, has during the 2004 calendar recorded a monthly average egg export of 52.5 million units (based on the first nine month shipments, that is January-September 2005), and, this year, the average monthly shell egg shipment has gone up to 66.7 million units (up to September 2005), registering a 25 per cent growth.

As for the avian flu problem, Dr Selvaraj said the poultry farms in India, especially those in the South are quite insulated from the virus attack as the bird farms are reared in high temperature zones. Further, unlike Thailand or Vietnam where piggeries are situated alongside the poultry, poultry farms here are not clubbed with any other animal zones, he added. Poultry vaccines are easily available to contain the disease any time, though bulk of these vaccines are imported. Being aware of the implications, the poultry farmers have long ago initiated all bio security practices within their respective farm areas. "I consider the scope for any avian flu attack is far remote in this context," he added.

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