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High maize price continues to bother poultry sector

G. Gurumurthy

Ruling high on increased export opportunity

Chicken feed
With the poultry sector growing at 10%, the shortfall in domestic maize crop is a cause for concern.
Broiler Co-ordination Committee is pressing the Government to allow maize imports at `O' duty.

Coimbatore , Nov. 2

The rising maize prices have unnerved the poultry feed sector that was looking for some relief from the Union Government in taming the soaring prices.

Despite the arrival of the news crop in the market since last month, there is no let up in the price rise as the domestic price is ruling above Rs 600 a tonne. It was being quoted at Rs 610-Rs 650 per tonne spot in Karnataka last week.

Soaring Cost

"The price last year during the same period (November first week) ruled at Rs 525 a tonne and now it is up by over 20 per cent. This points to the prospects of soaring cost of feed manufacture for the poultry sector this time," said Mr Lakshmanan, President of the Palladam-based Broiler Co-ordination Committee (BCC). Besides the per tonne price of Rs 650, the poultry producers moving the corn from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu had to bear an additional Rs 100 towards transport and handling charges which would push up the final price to Rs 750.

The increased export opportunity for Indian maize to Far-East has kept the corn prices firming.

Export Procurement

Tamil Nadu-based poultry feed units largely depend on maize from Karnataka and the projected lower crop this year from that State has added to the farmers' worries. As against the usual crop size of 12-14 lakh tonnes, the maize output from Karnataka is expected to be lower at 10-12 lakh tonnes.

But what has caused greater concern for the poultry feed producers here is the huge volume of export procurement of maize being reported this year from Karnataka. The industry grapevine puts the size of the maize being lined up for exports from Karnataka around 2-3 lakh tonnes, of which orders have been placed for shipment of some 50,000 tonnes.

Maize Imports

With the poultry sector posting an annual growth rate of 10 per cent, the stagnancy or shortfall in the domestic maize crop was certainly worrying, said Mr Lakshmanan. The international price at $135 per tonne (US market price), the maize imports at current tariff restriction quota basis will certainly be unviable as the importers have to bear an additional $40 per tonne towards freight, besides Rs 1,000 towards handling.

The BCC President, however, felt that as an alternative source, import of maize dutyfree could be an option before the poultry feed manufacturers, though this too would be a costly option for many in the industry. BCC is pressing the Government to allow maize imports at `O' duty. Similarly, his association is also joining the other domestic maize consuming industry such as the starch manufacturers to impress upon the Centre to weigh the domestic consumption angle before allowing export of maize out of India.

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