Agri Business

Initiative launched to widen contract farmers’ network, strengthen engagement  

Suguna Chicken, a unit of Coimbatore-based Suguna Foods, is attempting to rope in more contract farmers for its poultry business through a ‘missed call’ campaign. 

Prospective poultry farmers can give it a missed call, the poultry conglomerate, a pioneer in contract farming, said in a press release. 

It is the first such initiative by a poultry firm in the country. “Suguna Foods is the only company undertaking such an initiative,” said the company’s spokesperson. 

To handhold farmers

Suguna Chicken, which is associated with over 40,000 farmers across the country, will hand-hold its contract poultry farmers from the stage a bird is hatched. 

The spokesperson said the firm was launched with the goal of  “energising rural India” and that it has improved the lives of many rural households. 

“We have always had a good relationship with our farmers’ community, and they have been with us for more than three decades,” said the spokesperson. “We are now even more excited to collaborate with more farmers and look forward to a mutually beneficial growth.”

The firm, one of the top 10 global poultry companies, did not say how many farmers it targets to rope in through the campaign. It operates in 18 states in India and offers a range of poultry products and services.

Strengthening connection

“Suguna Foods intends to strengthen its relationship with its existing farmers’ community and more through this initiative,” the spokesperson said.

On the reason behind the initiative, the spokesperson said it was aimed at strengthening “our connection and engagement” with the farmer community.

The fully integrated firm with broiler and layer farming, hatcheries, feed mills, manufacturing plants, vaccines, and exports, aims to promote sustainable farming through the initiative. “Furthermore, it serves as an additional tool for farmers to reach out to us independently without the support of third-party interference,” the spokesperson said.

‘Growing charge’ 

Industry sources said the initiative may be to widen the company’s network of contract farmers who supply chicken, particularly at a time when a section is demanding higher remuneration. 

A small poultry farm owner, who did not wish to be identified, said the initiative will  help poultry farmers approach the firm more easily for contracts.

“This could also be a move to rope in new farmers in view of a section agitating for higher payment. These farmers were paid a minimum of ₹3.50 a kg as ‘growing charge’ for a bird until 2020. Thereafter, the payment was increased to ₹6.5 a kg. If the contract farmer takes care of the bird well and feeds it better, they get payments up to ₹12 a kg, though they get between ₹8 and ₹10 on average,” the farm owner said.

The “growing charge” incentive is to ensure there is no misuse of the feed or other inputs that the firm supplies. 

Bird shortage

“Now, those contract farmers are saying the payment is not adequate,” the farm owner said. 

The development comes at a time when the poultry market is facing a shortage of birds. “The shortage has resulted in prices of live birds rising to ₹130 a kg. Since March, prices have been ruling above ₹110 compared with ₹80 a kg at one point of time last year,” the farm owner said. 

Input cost is ₹100-105 per bird, amidst a surge in soyameal, maize and edible oil prices. 

Published on June 15, 2022