The ticket ban decision not only hit Hyderabad’s famed chicken biryani industry hard, but also put poultry farmers in a state of major crisis.
Since November 9, boards have been hung outside chicken and mutton shops in Hyderabad and other small towns in Telangana. These tips scream in Telugu – “No change”.
In Hyderabad, patrons of Bawarchi at RTC Cross Road and the famous Paradise Restaurant in Secunderabad, famous for their biryani and kebabs, were in shock. The management of these hotels issued tokens instead of changing. “Make change for better service,” Paradise boards said. These tokens can be redeemed at any of their outlets in Hyderabad itself. Other popular biryani restaurants – like Minerva, Shadab Bahar, and Madina – quickly followed suit with the token system.
“We were selling more than 1.5 lakh of biryani sachets on weekdays and around 2.5 lakhs on weekends, but since November 8, our sales have fallen by more than 50%,” lamented Mohammed Azeezuddin, owner of the Bawarchi restaurant. “We undervalue our products to cover running costs,” he added. Bawarchi, which is generally open since 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., was only opened for a few hours in the first few days after the demonetization was announced.
Poultry farmers on the roads
The sudden cash flow crunch and the crisis of change have left many roadside businesses wringing their hands. With buyers in decline, poultry farmers set up their own retail stalls on the highways and offered the meat at nearly 50 percent of the market price. “Much like the tomato glut scene in Andhra Pradesh, it was tragic that the poultry farmers of Medak, Ranga Reddy and Nalgonda, along with their families, lined up on the highways to dispose of their stocks on a daily basis,” Telangana Livestock Minister Talasani Srinivas Yadav said. .
Demonetization has been disastrous for the poultry industry whose products are perishable. Distress sales of their products across the Maharashtra – Chhattisgarh and Karnataka border have only led to high transport costs, but returns are minimal. There are no egg takers, even when offered at bargain prices of 2.90 rupees per egg against the market rate of 4.10 rupees per egg since November 8. Out of a daily egg production of 1.5 crore in the state, only 50 lakhs were sold and the rest was thrown away or donated as charity to nursing homes, orphanages and welfare homes. students. “For poultry, November to February is the peak season for festivals. The tightening of the change in this season has been a disaster. To reduce losses, the only way is to cull the birds, which will have a negative impact. impact on our investments and our workforce, ”said V Harshavardhan Reddy, vice president of the Telangana Poultry Breeders Association.
“We have just sold a thousand kilograms of chicken meat in the last 20 days against our monthly sale of 3.5 kilograms of crore,” said Dr Sudhakar, head of the Telangana Poultry Federation. Poultry farms are essential in Telangana, a semi-arid region, where crops often fail and water is scarce. The chicken and egg trade here is primarily a cash-driven business, bringing significant side income to marginal and large farmers who only grow one crop per year.
Many Telangana farmers take expensive loans from microfinance companies to start small poultry businesses, mortgaging their drylands in the hope of quick returns. “We ventured into poultry last year and have made good profits so far, but the currency ban hit us like love at first sight and leads us to bankruptcy,” Banti Mahipal said. , a small poultry farmer based in Govindapet, in the Armoor Mandal of the Nizamabad district.
It was a nightmare for us, because almost 90% of our business is done in cash and not through banking transactions, ”said Sammaiah, a large egg and chicken trader from Lakshminarayanpet in Jangoan district.
The poultry industry, recently hit by the high cost of financing and feeding birds in addition to bird flu, had started showing signs of coming out of the red in Telangana. The ruling government of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) in 2015 gave the poultry industry the much sought-after recognition of “ agriculture ” and thus made it eligible for easy loans from cooperatives. and banks and also applied for government input subsidies. . “By recognizing poultry as an agricultural activity, the KCR (Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao) had also given us relief from income tax issues,” said Errballi Pradeep Rao, president of the Federation of Livestock Breeders. Telangana poultry.
Poultry retailers take a hit
From farmers, the crisis has spread to small vendors in the city of Hyderabad, Telangana’s largest market for poultry products. Once the vendors refused to accept the demonetized tickets, the lines were gone. “We were losing 41 rupees for every pound of chicken and 95 paisa on every egg we sold, but we had to keep selling even at these prices, because the product would be in a trash can after dark,” said Mohammed Osman of Osman Chicken Stalls in Yakutpura. .
When demand fell, suppliers tried innovations. Chicken Melas have been organized in the old town and in Secunderabad, offering biryani, fried chicken, chicken kebabs and tangdi kebabs at very nominal prices. Leading political leaders have been invited to participate in these melas in order to get publicity. The NECC (National Egg Coordinating Committee) has also held exhibitions and outlets across Hyderabad and Secunderabad, hoping to attract customers with omelets, boiled eggs, curried eggs and grilled egg sandwiches. “Such gadgets are only good for a few days, but the daily chicken eater was always dry and dry,” said S Sailaja Rangachari, a schoolteacher from Nallakunta in Hyderabad.
Poultry: a crucial industry in Telangana
India’s poultry industry employs over 25 million people and feeds millions more. The 31 districts of Telangana account for one third of the Rs 95,000 crore industry in the country. Telangana has nearly 10,000 recognized poultry farms and, together with the unrecognized small farms, has nearly 100 million broilers (70 million in the recognized sector). According to sources from the Poultry Federation, nearly 70 percent of the sector is dominated by small and medium farmers. Large companies in the poultry industry like Venkateswara Hatcheries, Sneha, Ram Reddy and Arunodaya have already diversified into the fast food market and have set up agencies for poultry equipment. These large companies have therefore not felt the pinch of the crisis of change.
The high cost of soybeans and corn – bird feed – hit the industry in 2013 but since 2015, after recognizing poultry as an agricultural activity, the state government has provided input subsidies as well as free electricity.
“We should also get all the concessions in deposits and also in withdrawals, just like the farmers,” demanded Tirupati Verma, a poultry farmer in Ranga Reddy district with 25,000 birds. He wants the Center to also declare a moratorium on loans from microfinance groups and other NBFCs as well as for the poultry sector in Telangana.
Poultry farmers and chicken retailers in Hyderabad say normalcy would not return to their business unless the new Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes are issued. “We are struggling to give change for Rs 2,000 bills because we don’t have enough Rs 100 bills,” said Mohammed Shafiullah, another chicken and egg retailer at Masab Reservoir in Hyderabad. .