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Egg Exporters Call for Compartmentalisation

by 5m Editor
6 May 2009, at 7:38a.m.

INDIA - Egg exports were down by more than ten per cent at India's poultry hub, Namakkal, following the avian flu outbreak in the country last year. Farmers in the area are calling for compartmentalisation.

Following the outbreak of bird flu in north-east India, the Gulf countries banned poultry products from India for most part of 2008-2009, reports Economic Times of India. Ths led to a fall in egg exports from Namakkal zone during the year. To facilitate export of eggs from non-affected regions, the farmers in Namakkal have called for compartmentalisation of farms or separate zoning of each state.

Namakkal zone, which is the poultry hub of India, reported a drop of 10.15 per cent in egg exports last year compared to the previous year. Data compiled by National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC) showed the region exported 1.0986 billion eggs in 2008-2009 against 1.2228 billion eggs in the previous year.

The region, which accounts for 90 per cent of the total egg exports from the country, is said to have suffered due to the ban on imports in the Middle East. It was imposed though there were no reported cases of avian influenza outbreak in Namakkal zone.

"We are thousands of kilometres away from Tripura, the place where the flu outbreak started and still we are not able to export to Middle East countries because the whole country is treated as one zone," said K.S. Ponnuswamy, proprietor of KSP Feeds, Namakkal.

Since February 2006, when the first outbreak of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was reported in India, the country has been facing a downturn in exports. But, it also paved way to explore other potential countries for export of eggs and Afghanistan turned out to be one.

In 2007-08, when the ban was lifted for the whole year, exports to Afghanistan and Africa almost doubled. However, last year was the worst affected with the ban lifted for only few days during November 2008.

"After the country declared itself to be bird flu free on 4 November 2008, an outbreak was reported on 11 November and therefore the Middle East ban was more or less present throughout the year," said V.K.S. Sivakumar, managing director of VKS Exports. His company holds a 70 per cent market share in egg exports from India.

Namakkal zone was regularly shipping three million eggs to Gulf Countries each day before the ban. "With newer markets, we could have grown three-fold in egg exports," said P. Valsan, secretary of All India Poultry Products Exporters Association.

"But to achieve that our government should take proper steps by bringing the whole industry under single window system and establish a Poultry Development Board," he added.

Dr A.T. Venugopal, who is a technical consultant for poultry farmers in India, told Economic Times that the state government should implement a Notifiable Avian Influenza (NAI) free establishment within Highly Pathogenic Notifiable Avian Influenza (HPNA) free compartment as per terrestial Animal Health Code of OIE, 2008.