November 20, 2023


Report recommends permitting GM corn imports to support India's poultry sector




India's $30 billion poultry industry needs policy support in the form of allowing the import of genetically modified (GM) corn and measures to boost the production of key feeds, including soybean, a recent report said.


The sector, which is already growing at a healthy rate of 8% annually, could see further acceleration, the report — called "Confederation of Indian Industry in Vision Document 2047 for Indian poultry sector" — added.


Stating that there has been increasing diversion of corn towards industrial use and ethanol production, the report stated: "The current growth level of maize and soybean production in the country will be insufficient to meet the demand of poultry industry."


Improved genetics and disease resistance breeds and enhancement of disease surveillance in birds have also been recommended.


Pitching for the Indian government to allow imports of GM corn and soybean due to "unprecedented increase" in prices, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said that the interest of domestic producers should be protected.


"High poultry feed prices, which constitute 65-70% of meat production, push up production costs and the prices could be stabilised through allowing imports of GM maize," Ricky Thapar, treasurer of the poultry federation of India, told Financial Express.


The report stated that poultry production is largely concentrated in southern and western India. CII has recommended scale up operations in states like Bihar, which has abundant production of corn, a key feed ingredient.


According to ministry of fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying, India's poultry sector grew 8% annually during the 2006-2007 period to 2021-2022. A poultry meat output of 4.5 miilion tonnes, contributed to 51.4% of the country's total meat production production of 9.3 million tonnes in 2021-22.


Noting that large number of smallholders make it difficult for farmers to access markets, credit and other services, the CII report suggested "collectivisation of smallholders into cooperatives or producer companies for ensuring adequate supply of inputs — day-old-chicks, vaccination, feed, extension services, market access and higher role in price discovery."


The poultry sector in India is valued at more than $28 billion in 2021-22.


The report added that growth of the sector has been attributed to the commercial poultry industry which accounts for 85% of production while the rest of 15% of the output comes from the traditional backyard poultry.


To enhance disease control amongst the poultry birds, the report stressed on strengthening integrated disease surveillance and early warning systems for reports on bird flu incidents.


Major poultry meat producing states in India include Maharashtra (15%) West Bengal (14%), Haryanaa (12%), Andhra Pradesh (11%), Tamil Nadu (10%) and Telangana (9%) making up total production. The top seven states produce 80% of poultry meat output in the country.


The Indian poultry sector contributes 16% to the value of output for the livestock sector and 5% to the overall value of output of agriculture and allied sectors.

- Financial Express