While farmers in the north agitating against three agri reform Bills apprehend that private players would exploit them and dominate the sector, the poultry farming segment in Maharashtra with an annual turnover of ₹35,000 crore has flourished, thanks to the joint efforts of farmers and private investors.
One of the agri reform laws introduced by the government seeks to create a new legal framework for contract farming, which is being opposed by farmers from Punjab and Haryana and Opposition parties saying that farmers will be at the receiving end in the exercise.
However, Maharashtra’s poultry farming industry depicts a different picture, according to poultry farmers. Poultry production has a long history of backyard farming, but the picture has changed in the last few years in Maharashtra, thanks to contract poultry farming.
“Poultry farming has flourished in Maharashtra, especially in the last 10-15 years, with private investors joining hands with poultry farmers. Private investment has played a major role in infrastructure development in poultry farming and thousands of farmers have reaped the benefits of the growing industry,” Maharashtra Poultry Farmers and Breeders Association President Vasant kumar Shetty told BusinessLine. He added that it is absolutely wrong to close the doors on private investment apprehending that investors and entrepreneurs will loot the farmers.
Private players in Maharashtra control commercial production of layer poultry birds (egg-laying poultry birds raised for commercial egg production) and broiler poultry (chicken bred and raised for meat production). The private enterprises involve farmers in contract farming for the broiler poultry, which is sold under brand names.
“Our experience shows that new opportunities arise when private investments come in. Infrastructure development, including processing plants, are the result of private investment in Maharashtra’s poultry farming industry,” said Shetty.
Infrastructure support from private players come in the form of improved poultry birds, day-old chicks at subsidised rates, hatchery units and training sessions.
Agriculture analyst Deepak Chavan says that Maharashtra has a new supply chain of maize farmers who are directly supplying their produce to the poultry industry.
“Maharashtra has been implementing reforms in the Model Act since 2003 and private companies producing cattle feed are directly purchasing raw material from farmers,” he said. As poultries purchase maize directly from farmers there is a synergy between the poultry business and farmers, which has no place for the middleman, said Chavan.