By Sara HrubyThis article may be reproduced freely and in its entirety without permission.
A woman with a baby daughter who lives in a suburb of New Delhi is struggling to raise the cash to get her brood of nine chickens on the road to slaughter.
Shashna Shah, who is one of India’s top chicken traders, says she has been struggling for years to pay the chicken farmers, but the government’s anti-labor laws make it difficult.
“We were not allowed to sell any chicken in any supermarket because of the new anti-loan measures,” said Shah, a mother of two who is a part-time chicken breeder.
“There are now more than 1,000 farms that are struggling to buy the animals they need.
And we are the only ones that are allowed to do so.”
Shah, who runs a wholesale chicken farm near the border with Bangladesh, is one among the thousands of Indian chicken traders who are facing a bleak future.
The country’s poultry trade is one in which profits are heavily dependent on government subsidies, while the supply of chickens is in decline.
The government has been cracking down on the sector, cutting subsidies and introducing tariffs to help farmers pay for the chickens they produce.
And the country’s growing population is making it difficult for the farmers to keep up.
The recent spike in bird flu has made it more difficult for many Indian chicken farmers to get enough chickens to slaughter, and that means they have to take on even more work to feed their families.
The average age of chicken breeders is now around 25, and more than half the chicken breeder families are over 70, said Rajan Bhagat, a retired poultry breeder and a founding member of the International Chicken Breeder’s Association (ICBA).
Bhagat says that since the introduction of the government-backed scheme, which began in January, the industry has gone from being an economic engine to a social drain.
“There is no money for wages and no food,” said Bhagas, who farms poultry in the northern state of Rajasthan.
“You cannot even buy the eggs.”
The government, which is responsible for more than a third of Indias chicken exports, has also imposed stringent tariffs on some imports, including chicken from Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh has plummeted by more than 70 percent in recent years.
For many Indian poultry farmers, the trade has become more of a gamble.
In the past, many farmers would have paid an exorbitant price for a chicken to make sure it arrived at their doorstep safely, but now that prices have been set in the billions of rupees, the prices are lower.
The prices of imported chicken are often so high that even the best-paid chicken breachers can’t compete with the wholesale chicken market.
The cheapest chicken breacher, who earns as little as Rs 5,000 a month, would be required to sell his chicken at prices ranging from Rs 15,000 to Rs 30,000, depending on the size of the farm.
In the past year, many of the chicken breakers have resorted to raising prices on their own.
In a recent interview, an egg breeder in the southern state of Maharashtra said his costs have doubled from Rs 10,000 in April to Rs 20,000 now.
Many of these chicken breachors say that they are also forced to spend more on food.
The price of chicken is rising due to the government measures, and many farmers have had to spend their own money on food and other necessities.
The chicken industry is also facing a big challenge: It has been slow to adapt to the changing climate.
India’s poultry industry has faced a big economic downturn in recent decades.
Its farmers, whose livelihoods depend on the industry, are now struggling to survive.