NE slow in race to fill forces’ egg quota
From CK Nayak
NEW DELHI: Poultry farmers all over the country are counting their chickens even before the eggs are hatched, that too for the north-eastern states, but the region’s tribals are still searching for the proverbial chicken that lays golden eggs.
Hence forward North-East’s predominant defence forces will get one more egg in their daily ration. The Defence Ministry recently announced that the country’s 30 lakh-strong armed forces could look forward to an extra egg in their daily ration.
Delighted poultry farmers all over the country have already begun drawing up big expansion plans in a race to corner this Rs 250-crore opportunity as the forces get set to consume nearly five per cent of the total eggs sold daily in the country.
Production of the nutrient is extremely limited in the region as the tribals still depend on country chicken reared at their backward which gives eggs that is sufficient only for the family or for sale in the local market at best.
“The troops will now get two eggs a day irrespective of their placements, be it on field or peace locations. The Ministry has allocated an additional Rs 250 crore in the annual budget for the change in diet plan,” a ministry spokesperson said.
Till now, jawans deployed above 9000 feet and those in the forward areas are getting one egg a day, while those below officer rank in peace time posting were not given eggs.
With heavy army deployment at North-East, Pakistan border and Jammu and Kashmir, poultry farmers in Punjab, Haryana and West Bengal and Southern states are planning to swiftly increase egg production to meet this huge and sudden rise in demand.
India produces around 14 crore eggs daily and consumes almost all.
Meanwhile, poultry companies have also started working on how to pack eggs to make transportation easier in tough terrain of North-East.
However, the present selection and breeding programme being adopted by farmers for native chicken will not at all be enough to considerably increase the production of the eggs, a study said. But rearing native chicken is less expensive since it does not need extra food, shelter or medicine, it added.
Egg and meat production in North-East is largely dependent on low yielding native chicken. Increasing the genetic potential of these native chicken varieties may help increase their productivity, the study said.
With sustained demand, Indian can grow and achieve the World Health Organisation’s target of 180 eggs per capita annual consumption by next year.
The per capita egg consumption in India is 43 eggs a year, which is much
lower than the world average of 124 eggs.
Nutrition-wise, adding more eggs to the army’s diet will be a cost-effective way to increase protein consumption.
Compared to other protein sources, egg is very cheap and has good protein content, nutritionists say.
Source: The Shillong Times