Challenges and Opportunities for the Poultry Sector in J&K

Dr. Banarsi Lal
The poultry sector of modern India has transformed from backyard rearing to commercial organized and scientific. This sector plays a significant role in improving the socio-economic condition of rural people by generating gainful employment and augmenting the family income of the farmers. The average per capita consumption of meat and eggs in India is around 5.5 Kg and 79 eggs per annum. This is much lower than the global average of 40 Kg meat and more than 200 eggs per annum. Poultry has been there in the backyards of most of the houses since ages, forming a part of nutrition and family income. Government has started encouraging the backyard poultry for the rural development. Improved varieties of low technology input birds are bred for this purpose, which are genetically more efficient in production in comparison to the local poultry. The birds grow faster than native birds reaching 1.5 kg weight in 45 days but can withstand variable feed qualities and also supplement themselves by scavenging. The low technology input birds are mostly of dual purpose. Mother units are being encouraged to take care of the brooding and vaccination in the first four weeks before they are distributed among the farmers to ensure the disease security. Cluster farming in rural areas is possible with these chicken for enhancing the meat production on the lines of broiler farming in which of group of 8 to 10 farmers or educated youth can form a cluster and grow the birds in groups of 500 to 1,000 birds in low cost houses as “organic chicken” by making their own low-cost organic feeds without chemicals and antibiotics. The objective of backyard poultry is to encourage poultry farming activity and to provide employment opportunities in backward areas.
Poultry farming is not new in the Union Territory of J&K and it has been practiced by the farmers since the time immemeorial.In J&K poultry farming is emerging as an important enterprise and is helpful to create income and employment among the rural youths. J&K has witnessed a tremendous growth in poultry sector in last few decades. There is an immense potential of poultry farming in J&K.In the Union Territory of J&K still there is shortfall in the poultry meat and poultry egg production.There is gap between demand and supply of poultry meat and eggs and is mainly filled by purchasing the poultry birds and poultry eggs from the other states of the country thus draining J&K exchequer. According to the recent report, in the Union Territory of J&K every year around Rs.2000 crores of meat is imported from the outside of J&K. Efforts are made to excel the progress on the broiler production and commercial egg production. Some outstanding egg laying poultry strains such as Vanraja, Chabro and Chabrown have been introduced in J&K which have raised hope for mitigating the eggs need in J&K. The cost of quality proteins is increasing rapidly and due to poor purchasing power of the farmers their families’ members suffer malnutrition especially of animal protein. The poultry sector can ensure the proper nourishment of the farmers’ families besides income and employment. Poultry birds can increase the income of the farmers as poultry farming requires low inputs, have short gestation period and give better and quick returns.This sector can also help to empower the rural women of J&K. There are numerous examples of successful poultry entrepreneurs in J&K. Government is offering the various incentives to motivate the aspiring poultry farmers of J&K.In recent years J&K has shown tremendous progress in the poultry sector. Scientific poultry farming has been adopted on a large scale in Jammu, Kathua, Reasi, Udhampur, Pulwama, Srinagar. Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) of J&K are imparting training programmes on advance poultry farming to the farmers of J&K and are creating interest on poultry farming in the rural areas. The indigenous poultry birds produce only 60-80 eggs per year and meat production is also very less. Commercial poultry production can be easily boosted in the Union Territory of J&K with the introduction of improved varieties of poultry which can lay 160-200 eggs per year and also produce more meat. In poultry sectors trenuous efforts are needed to mitigate the poultry products needs of J&K.
Some innovations in poultry sector such as horti-poultry model can really help to enhance the income of the farmers of J&K. This model is helpful in the natural weeding in the orchards, optimization of resources utilization,natural sanitation of the orchard, fertilization of the orchard, production of organic products ,food security etc. This model is very simple and can be easily adopted.KVK, Reasi has introduced black meat poultry variety namely Kadaknath in the district which is very low in cholesterol (0.73%-1.05%), rich in proteins (25%), vitamins and helpful for the asthmatic and nephritis patients. The meat and eggs of this poultry variety are costly and can help to improve the socio-economic status of the farmers.KVK has also introduced high egg laying birds such as Vanraja, Chabro and Chabrown.
There are numerous opportunities in poultry industry due to (a) Government policies relating to investments in poultry and related industries, taxation, import duties, excise duties are favourable. (b)Increase in income and employment generation for the rural poor and marginal farmers. (c) Consumer awareness and acceptability of eggs and chicken as good source.The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is the nodal organization for agricultural research in the country that is playing vital role in this sector. It undertakes research in its own institutes Central Avian Research Institute, Izatnagar and Project Directorate on Poultry Hyderabad and also in State Agricultural Universities through All India Coordinated Research Projects.There are certain challenges in the poultry industry such as:(a) Poor infrastructure for export is hindering the export of poultry products. (b)Competition from international players on opening up duty-free imports, lifting of trade barriers. (c)Increasing propaganda and demonstrations by organizations on promoting vegetarianism and animal rights. (d) Occurrence of Salmonella and other diseases in poultry meat. (e) Many countries are dumping their poultry products i.e. exporting eggs at prices lower than production cost. (f) Many countries are protecting their poultry industry from foreign competition by protective measures like restricting imports, keeping egg prices at lower level etc. (g)Some countries provide subsidies, export incentives to exporters and keep their price low.
As the poultry industry is among the fastest growing in the world, it needs greater integration, better cost-effectiveness and improvement in the distribution. More retail outlets, mass gathering and creating awareness to home to home about the nutrient values of chicken and eggs is needed. Poultry industry needs good branding system in order to increase the consumption of chicken. The poultry companies have to encourage direct procurement of maize from the farmers by using contract farming.
Also, the collection of reliable, updated statistics is necessary for immediate and long term planning and thereby helping in preventing shortages in poultry farming. There is need to develop efficient, independent, authority for disease monitoring, biological quality control and biosecurity measures in the poultry industry. This sector can open new avenues of income and employment for the youths of the Union Territory of J&K. There are also opportunities in layer farming, hatchery establishment and poultry feed manufacturing in J&K. More awareness and technical skill on value addition in poultry farming is also needed. There is need of more basic and applied research in meat science and technology.