The All India Poultry Breeders Association (AIPBA) on Monday demanded that the government permit duty-free import of maize to meet the requirement of the poultry industry amid rise in the grain consumption in ethanol production and insufficient domestic output.
AIPBA Chairman Bahadur Ali, in a representation to Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, said ethanol makers' growing thirst for maize has also pushed prices skyward, posing a major challenge for Indian poultry farmers.
"With maize prices hovering around Rs 22-23 per kg across India, poultry farmers are grappling with unsustainable costs," he said and cautioned that the burden is expected to intensify further by February 2024, which may adversely impact the poultry industry.
Against this backdrop, the association said there are two options before the government for addressing the rising demand for maize in both livestock feed and other industries. One is importing maize and the other is increasing domestic production.
"However, significant short-term increase in domestic output is deemed improbable. Therefore, importing maize from other countries emerges as the most viable solution to meet the immediate demand," it stated in its representation.
The current basic import duty on maize is 50 per cent.
Citing concerns over the rising maize consumption in ethanol production, the association pointed out that India's 34.60 million tonne annual maize production is insufficient to meet the requirements of the poultry industry as well as the nation's food security.
As per estimates of the Indian Institute of Millets Research, the poultry and livestock industry consumes more than 60 per cent of the country's maize production, it said.
In this context, the government's ambitious plan to generate half of the ethanol from maize by 2025-26 "may have some serious implications for sectors like poultry and livestock."
The association said diverting such a significant chunk of current maize production could impact their access to essential feedstock, creating a severe demand-supply gap in the coming years.
Also, maize production growth over the decade has been at 4.5 per cent, while the poultry industry has experienced a growth of 8-9 per cent.
"This disparity highlights the anticipated maize shortage for the poultry industry, particularly in the wake of the government's plan to promote maize for ethanol in a big way," it observed.
India is the sixth largest producer of maize in the world and its production in India is second only to wheat and rice.