INDIA - Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have hit out at plans by the external affairs ministry to allow duty-free imports of chicken legs from the US.
The states say the move will lead to dumping of an item that Americans usually discard.
"Duty-free imports of chicken legs at highly discounted prices from the US would cripple our domestic poultry industry and affect maize growers too," said P Chengal Reddy, secretary-general of the Consortium of Indian Farmers Association.
According to The Economic Times, the association, which plans to approach MPs from the three southern states to take up the matter in Parliament, has already written to the commerce ministry. "We are also organising the small farmers and traders so that we can thwart the move," he said.
Indian poultry market is estimated to be worth Rs 65,000 crore. Of this, Telangana alone accounts for Rs 10,000 crore and is considered as the poultry basket of the country.
Maize is a key ingredient in poultry feed and any impact on the poultry sector could affect producers of the grain too. US is the world's largest consumer of poultry meat with annual consumption of about 13 million tonne.
Americans prefer chicken breasts, which is sold at a premium. "Chicken legs, which is seen more as a discard in US is sold at throwaway prices. Most of them are stored for months before they decide to dump this in the Indian market without restrictions or customs duty," said G Ranjit Reddy, president of the Hyderabad-based Poultry Breeders Association.
According to industry sources in India, while the whole chicken is sold at about $4 a kg in the US, breast meat costs $7.90 and chicken legs $3.40 in the retail market. Ranjit Reddy said the US is exporting chicken legs at 40-80 cents per kg.
"Let the government allow import of full chicken from US on a level playing field and we will compete with it."
In the recent past, chicken legs imported from the US at throwaway prices severely affected the poultry industry in Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico and Russia, following which these countries had banned the imports, said Chengal Reddy of the farmers' consortium.
The Compound Livestock Feed Manufacturers' Association, the apex association for livestock industry, is preparing to approach the agriculture and commerce ministries over this issue.
Amit Saraogi, deputy chairman of the association, said the move will affect the poultry feed industry as well.
TheMeatSite News Desk