Poultry farms in India were already facing pressure on their profit margins due to the steady increase in feed prices. The government’s decision last year to increase the minimum support prices for soybean and maize, two of the products most commonly used as poultry feed, led to an increase in the cost of production of poultry.
At a time when they were struggling to pass this on to the consumers despite the demand, the coronavirus pandemic turned everything helter-skelter. When the news of the pandemic started spreading, misinformation spread along with it, and a lot of people were inundated with erroneous forwards that claimed that the virus can be transmitted through the consumption of poultry meat. This caused the demand for poultry meat to drop, and the prices dropped along with it, from over INR 75 per kg to INR 5 per kg, in just over a month
Despite efforts by the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Poultry Federations of India and Breeders Associations across the country to quell the rumours, the panic had settled in and the public started avoiding meat and eggs, which led to a sharp fall in demand, and a huge setback for farmers who depended on farming poultry for their livelihood.
To help poultry farmers tide over the market crunch caused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vetphage Pharmaceuticals, in collaboration with its parent company Proteon Pharmaceuticals, distributed their high-quality poultry feed additive BAFASAL+G free of charge to farmers.
“Since poultry is a low margin commodity, it takes over 10 production cycles to recover the losses, which are currently upwards of 20,000 crore rupees. This does not bode well for the economy either as the industry contributes 6-7% to our national GDP. Considering the dire situation, Vetphage Pharmaceuticals decided to give the industry a push by supplying BAFASAL+G to the farmers for free,” said Dr. Ramdas Kamble, Senior Vice President, Vetphage Pharmaceuticals.
BAFASAL+G consists of a cocktail of 6 lytic bacteriophages, with 2 phages targeting S. Gallinarum specifically, without any negative impact on the gut microbiome of chicken. By directly impacting Salmonella bacteria, BAFASAL+G helps create space for good bacteria to proliferate, thereby improving gut health, bird performance and preventing high mortality in broiler, layer and breeder flocks. BAFASAL+G also helps to reduce the usage of antibiotics and improves profitability.
Vetphage has successfully distributed over 300 litres of the product, valued at over INR 27 lakhs, to 57 poultry farmers across the country. The product has shown proven results when it comes to improving the efficacy of flocks and increasing the weight of broilers.
A lot of farmers have already shut farms due to the current crisis and the viability issues. If the current trend continues, poultry farmers will end up facing more losses. Not only will it disrupt their livelihood, but it will also affect livestock production.
Meanwhile, the institutes that finance players in the industry are looking forward to more concrete policy support and guidelines from the central government so that they can issue fresh working capital to businesses who are looking to revive the slump in their production. With their initiative, Vetphage Pharmaceuticals joins the government and other industry players in their efforts to boost production and sales volume of struggling poultry farmers in India.
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