Many Poultry farmers, who suffered heavy economic losses during the outbreak of Bird flu last year, have yet to receive compensation amount to be given to them under state government's financial package.
While the government has allotted Rs 50 crore out of Rs 80 crore package, 60 per cent of the amount, which is almost Rs 30 crore, has gone to contractors, who also suffered losses by providing working capital to poultry farmers.
However, due to the government's move to clear contractor's amount first under the package, as many as 35,000 farmers are away from their share in the package. The delay in reaching money to the farmers has added their woes at a time when poultry industry is facing another crisis of stiff hike in the prices of Maize, the main feed of birds.
State Animal Husbandry commissioner Bijay Kumar told Hindustan Times that "farmers were given 40 per cent share in the package with Rs 8 out of Rs 20 per bird, are going to farmers. The rest has been paid to contractors as they too sustained losses by providing feed, medicines and chicks to farmers".
The poultry business is mutually done by contractors and the farmers, in which former provides all the working capital while later gives infrastructure like land in addition to labour.
Poultry farmers and their associations however, are unhappy with the state government's policy of delay in clearing farmers' dues, while making payments to big contractors like Venkateshwara Hatcheries and Saguna.
Maharashtra Poultry association secretary Vijay Bhale said, "These companies, which have been providing working capital to farmers, are all big and can sustain loss if there is little delay in allotting their dues under financial package. The small farmers, who are economically weak, can not withstand the loss they incurred during the slack phase in poultry industry following bird flu outbreak in Maharashtra during last year."
"These contractors earned profit after the industry recovered from the bird flu as prices of birds had suddenly gone up. But the farmer like me did not get any share from that profit as the controlling of bird prices are in the hands of big contractors only," lamented Sadashiv Thombre, poulry farmer from Maval taluka.
Big Companies however, justified the government's system of allotting 60 per cent amount to them under the package. Prasanna Pedgaonkar, deputy general manager, Venkateshwara Hatcheries said, "During the bird flu, contractors too suffered heavy loss as the small chicks and other capital like feed and medicines were provided by these contractors only."
When contacted over telephone, Secretary, animal husbandry Lina Mehendale declined to comment on the issue of financial help to contractors. She said that the department will soon give the rest of the package amount to farmers as Rs 30 crore has already been cleared by the government.