Worried about the possibility of an “artificial scarcity” in the poultry market, the Assam Livestock and Poultry Corporation (ALPCO) has initiated an inquiry into the proposed “setting holiday” by a section of day old chicks producers in Assam.
The Eastern India Poultry Development Forum (EIPDF) on May 16, issued a circular, and asked all the hatcheries to stop setting eggs from May 26 to June 2 for hatching. It also directed the day-old-chick producers not to import any hatching eggs by rail or road during the period.
The EIPDF circular said no day-old chicks will be available in the market between June 17 and 23 because of the “setting holiday”. The unavailability of chicks is presumably a corporate-backed move to turn the poultry market bullish.
Manoj Saikia, Chairman of ALPCO told Northeast Now on Monday that his organization has taken serious note of the decision of “setting holiday”, and has directed his senior officials to inquire into it.
“We have come to know about the decision of the forum. But, they never discussed with us about the proposed setting holiday,” Saikia said, adding that a section of people engaged in the poultry industry cannot make the consumers hostage of the situation by creating an artificial scarcity in the market.
A large number of members of the EIPDF, who had assembled at the Lily Hotel on May 13 in Guwahati to take the decision of “setting holiday”, represented corporate houses from outside Assam.
Surprisingly, the Assam Government continued to exhibit a total lackadaisical approach to the issue. When contacted, Dr Anup Kumar Das said he heard about the issue from Commissioner & Secretary, Animal Husbandry, Mukti Gogoi.
“We will not be able to make any comment at this stage as we are not aware what exactly the EIPDF is planning to do,” Dr Das said, adding that decision will be taken only after meeting the members of the forum.
It was surprising that the Director of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary did not find time to meet the EIPDF members even after 120 hours of the issue of the circular. Probably, the Assam Director did not take note that the decision of “setting holiday” by EIPDF violated the Competition Act of 2002 as a “cartel”, and is a cognizable offence.
When contacted, Commissioner and Secretary of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department of Assam, Mukti Gogoi said he met AK Bhagowati, President of EIPDF recently, and is convinced that the decision of “setting holiday” was nothing wrong.
Gogoi said the top honchos of EIPDF have “promised” that the “setting holiday” will not result in rise in prices in the retail market. “If we find any abnormal rise in the retail price of chicken, strong actions will be taken against them,” he said.
“He (Bhagowati) said the decision was taken to protect the poultry industry,” Gogoi said, adding that Bhagowati said as there is maximum day-old chick morality rate during summer season. Interestingly, AK Bhagowati was a Fisheries scientist with the Assam Agricultural University.
Meanwhile, Dr. BR Das, CEO of EIPDF told Northeast Now that there has been no change in the plan, and “setting holiday” will be effective from May 26 to June 2. “Our President (Bhagowati) is in constant touch with the Assam government officials,” he said.