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Poultry Sector

2024 MAY 6

Mains   > Agriculture   >   Allied areas   >   Livestock rearing


GS 3 > Agriculture   >   Allied areas


  • In recent weeks, several states in India have reported outbreaks of bird flu, specifically the Highly Pathogenic Asian Avian Influenza A(H5N1) virus. While this virus primarily infects birds, there is also a risk of transmission to humans, underscoring the importance of swift and effective containment measures. 
  • The outbreaks have highlighted critical vulnerabilities in India's poultry sector.


  • Poultry is one of the fastest-growing segments of the agricultural sector in India today.
  • The total egg production in the country is 138.38 billion numbers during 2022-23. India ranks 3rd in the world in terms of total egg production (Source: FAO).
  • The poultry meat sector in India has been growing at an annual average growth rate of 8%, with egg production increasing by 7.45 % between 2014-15 to 2021-22 (Source: Basic Animal Husbandry statistics 2022, Ministry of Fisheries Animal Husbandry and Dairying).
  • With a growing population and rising demand for protein, the poultry industry is poised for continued growth in the coming years.
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        Source: Basic Animal Husbandry statistics 2022


  • Economic Contribution and Growth Potential: The poultry industry in India makes a substantial contribution to the economy. It has been growing at an annual average rate of 8%, indicating its robust nature. With a growing population, especially in urban areasgrowth in per capita income, and rising demand for protein, the poultry industry is poised for continued growth in the coming years.
  • Health and Nutrition: The poultry sector plays a crucial role in providing nutritious food, especially protein-rich products like eggs and chicken, essential for a balanced diet. This is particularly important in a country like India, where malnutrition is a significant concern. According to Lancet, about 68% of deaths of children under the age of five in India can be attributed to child and maternal malnutrition. Poultry products serve as an affordable source of high-quality protein, making them accessible to a large segment of the population. 
  • Export Potential: India's poultry sector has significant export potential, with opportunities to export poultry products to various countries. This can help in boosting foreign exchange earnings and enhancing the country's global trade. For instance, during the 2022-23 fiscal year, India exported poultry and poultry products to 64 countries, generating revenue of 134 million USD (source: Ministry of Fisheries Animal Husbandry and Dairying)
  • Empowerment of Small-Scale Farmers: The 20th Livestock Census reveals that about 30% of the 851.8 million poultry birds in India are raised by 'backyard poultry' or small and marginal farmers, showcasing their significant involvement in the sector. This high level of participation highlights the sector's ability to empower small-scale farmers, providing them with livelihood opportunities and income generation. This aspect is particularly significant in rural areas, where agriculture is a primary source of income.
  • Food Security: The poultry sector plays a crucial role in ensuring food security in India. With India ranking number one in the world in terms of population, the sector's growth helps in meeting the dietary needs of the population, especially in terms of protein intake.
  • Employment Generation: The poultry industry is a significant source of employment, providing jobs to a large number of people, both in rural and urban areas. It creates employment opportunities in various segments, including farming, processing, marketing, and distribution.
  • Technology and Innovation: The sector has been witnessing technological advancements and innovations, such as automated feeding systems, disease prevention techniques, and genetic advancements. These innovations help in improving efficiency, productivity, and sustainability in the industry.
  • Protection Against Disasters: Poultry farming, like other forms of livestock rearing, can serve as a form of insurance against natural calamities. The concentration of poultry farming in marginal and small holdings can provide a buffer against disasters for these vulnerable populations.
  • Empowering Rural Livelihoods and Doubling Farmers' Income: Poultry farming provides crucial subsidiary income for many Indian families, especially small and marginal farmers, aligning with the government's goal of doubling farmers' income. This diversification helps in sustainable rural livelihoods, poverty alleviation, and income enhancement. For instance, the rural poultry sector contributes to 21% of the total egg production in India.


  • Biosecurity and Disease Control: Poultry farms are vulnerable to diseases such as Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease, which can significantly impact poultry health and productivity. The current H5N1 avian influenza outbreak underscores the biosecurity risks in the poultry sector, posing threats to both economic viability and public health. For instance, WHO estimates the fatality rate for H5N1 at 52%, with almost all cases linked to contact with infected birds or environments.
  • Environmental Concerns: Industrial poultry farming contributes to environmental pollution through air and water contamination. Pollution from poultry farms can harm ecosystems, biodiversity, and public health. For instance, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has classified poultry units with more than 5,000 birds as a polluting industry.
  • Antibiotic Misuse: Antibiotics are frequently used as growth promoters and prophylactics in poultry farming, contributing to the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This misuse of antibiotics poses a serious threat to public health, diminishing the effectiveness of these crucial drugs and compromising treatment outcomes. Several antibiotics classified as critically important by the WHO are widely sold to farmers for preventative use in poultry farming.
  • Market Volatility and Debt: Poultry farmers often face market volatility and large debts due to factors such as fluctuating prices, input costs, and demand-supply dynamics. This financial stress can push farmers out of business despite their efforts.
  • Contract Farming Challenges: Contract farming arrangements can lead to dependency and exploitation of poultry farmers by industry giants. Farmers may face challenges in negotiating fair prices and terms, leading to financial strain.
  • Animal Welfare Concerns: Intensive confinement practices, such as keeping chickens in battery cages, raise ethical concerns regarding animal welfare. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, prohibits such practices, but enforcement can be challenging. Inhumane treatment of animals not only affects their well-being but also poses risks to human health and food safety.
  • Market Infrastructure: The poultry sector faces challenges related to market infrastructure, including inadequate slaughtering facilities, high logistics costs, and limited access to cold storage facilities. Cold storage is crucial for preserving poultry products, especially meat, to maintain their quality and safety.


  • National Livestock Mission (NLM): Aims to improve livestock production systems, including poultry, through breed improvement, healthcare, and infrastructure development.
  • Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY): Supports holistic growth in agriculture and allied sectors, including poultry, by enhancing production, infrastructure, and value addition.
  • National Livestock Policy: Aims to promote livestock development, including poultry, through breed improvement, disease control, and market access.
  • National Mission on Protein Supplements (NMPS): Seeks to increase livestock productivity, including poultry, through breed improvement, feed development, and promoting fodder trees.
  • National Animal Disease Control Programme (NADCP): Focuses on controlling livestock diseases, including poultry diseases, through vaccination and surveillance.
  • National Programme for Bovine Breeding and Dairy Development (NPBBDD): Supports breed improvement and healthcare services for livestock, including poultry.
  • National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP): Promotes organic farming practices, including in poultry, for sustainability and chemical-free products.


  • Biosecurity and Disease Control: Strengthen biosecurity measures on poultry farms, including strict protocols for farm access and sanitation. Invest in disease surveillance and early detection systems. Enhance coordination between farmers, veterinarians, and authorities to quickly respond to disease outbreaks.
  • Environmental Sustainability: Implement sustainable waste management practices, such as composting and nutrient utilization plans. Invest in energy-efficient equipment and renewable energy sources to reduce environmental impact. Adopt sustainable farming practices to minimize water usage and waste generation.
  • Reducing Antibiotic Misuse: Promote alternative disease prevention methods, such as vaccination programs and probiotics. Implement stricter regulations on antibiotic use in poultry farming. Educate farmers on the risks of antibiotic misuse and the benefits of reducing usage.
  • Enhancing Hygiene Practices in Poultry Farming: The 269th Law Commission of India Report, based on a representation by the Tata Memorial Centre, highlighted that non-therapeutic antibiotics given to poultry cause antibiotic resistance due to unhygienic living conditions. It recommended cleaner and ventilated living spaces to reduce antibiotic need, ensuring safer poultry products. 
  • Market Infrastructure: Improve slaughtering facilities and cold storage infrastructure to maintain product quality and safety. Reduce logistics costs by investing in efficient transportation and storage solutions. Increase access to markets through better connectivity and distribution networks.
  • Empowering Small-Scale Farmers: Provide training and support to small-scale farmers to improve their productivity and profitability. Facilitate access to credit and insurance schemes for small-scale poultry farmers. Promote cooperative farming models to enhance collective bargaining power and market access.
  • Technological Innovations: Embrace automation and robotics to improve efficiency and productivity on poultry farms. Utilize big data analytics for better management decisions and disease prevention. Invest in genetic advancements to develop disease-resistant and more efficient poultry breeds.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Ensure strict adherence to governmental and industry standards for animal welfare, food safety, and environmental sustainability. 
  • Market Expansion and Diversification: Explore new market opportunities, including export markets, for poultry products. Diversify product offerings to meet changing consumer preferences, such as organic or value-added products. Build strong brand reputation and consumer trust through transparent and ethical farming practices.
  • Research and Development: Invest in research and development to develop innovative solutions for disease control, feed efficiency, and environmental sustainability. 


Q. Discuss the significance of India's poultry sector. Highlight the challenges faced by the sector and suggest measures to enhance its sustainability and competitiveness. (15 marks, 250 words)