India's poultry industry seeks corn export curb to calm local prices

A labourer shuffles grains of corn to dry on the outskirts of the southern Indian city of Hyderabad April 13, 2009. India corn futures were trading lower on Monday on profit-taking after rising over 2 percent in the previous trading session, analysts said. REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder

NEW DELHI, Dec 13 (Reuters) - India needs to restrict corn exports to curb a rise in domestic prices and to ensure sufficient supplies of the main poultry feed, the country's livestock industry said on Tuesday.

Domestic corn prices have surged, driven by high demand, increased exports and some damage to the crop following heavy post-monsoon rains.

"We are staring at massive shortages of corn. That is why we have requested the government to ban corn exports," Neeraj Kumar Srivastava, chairman of the Compound Livestock Feed Manufacturers’ Association of India told Reuters in an interview.

Corn prices at the Gulab Bagh market in the eastern state of Bihar, a major corn hub, have risen by around 12% to 25,000 rupees ($302.02) a tonne over the last year, pushing up the cost of production for India's poultry industry.

"Corn prices have been going up for the past few years, but the recent spike has come as a big blow to the industry, and that is why we are going through a rough patch," Srivastava said.

"We cannot any longer pass on the cost to consumers as higher egg and chicken prices will make these poultry products unaffordable for many common consumers," he said.

India exported 3.6 million tonnes of corn in 2021, up from 1.9 million tonnes sold on the world market in 2020, according to trade and industry estimates.

Between January and September this year, India shipped out 2.4 million tonnes of corn.

In the world market, Indian corn is priced at $315 a tonne to $320 a tonne against $350 a tonne for rival supplies from Argentina, the world's biggest corn exporter after the United States.

India supplies corn to countries including Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.

"Exports have primarily picked up due to India's competitive pricing, but higher prices of other grains like broken rice have made it difficult for the poultry industry to replace corn with any other livestock feed," said Amit Sachdev, the India representative of the U.S. Grains Council.

($1 = 82.77 rupees)

Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; editing by Barbara Lewis

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