Cracking the Shell | Kashmir’s Eggonomics takes a jolt as egg prices soar

Srinagar, Jan 10: Kashmir is grappling with a significant surge in egg prices, reaching an alarming Rs 7 per piece, leaving consumers vulnerable to the consequences of heavy reliance on outside supplies.

The current rate reflects a staggering increase of over 40% compared to January 2023 when an egg was priced at Rs 4, and an entire tray could be purchased for Rs 120. Presently, an egg tray commands a price of Rs 210, signalling a concerning escalation in the cost of this dietary staple.

The underlying cause of this price surge lies in J&K’s heavy dependence on outside sources to meet its egg demands. As a result, consumers are feeling the impact of delayed imports and increased transportation costs, creating a complex scenario where affordability becomes a growing concern for the general populace.

According to Animal Husbandry Department officials, Jammu and Kashmir annually spend a substantial amount, Rs. 473 crore, on the import of table eggs. These imported eggs, crucial for their nutritional value, take an average of 15-30 days to reach J&K after being laid, highlighting the challenge of maintaining freshness.

The significant financial outflow for poultry imports is evident, with an annual flight of capital reaching Rs 1273 crore. This includes Rs 473 crore for table eggs, Rs 110 crore for day-old chicks, Rs 300 crore for poultry feed, and Rs 390 crore for broiler birds. The data underscores the economic impact and the need for strategic measures to enhance local production and reduce dependency on external sources.

Ghulam Muhammad Bhat, President, Kashmir Valley Poultry Farmers Association, voiced concern over the current state of egg prices in the region, attributing the pricing dynamics to external suppliers due to the lack of local production.

He emphasised that the majority of egg supplies are sourced from outside states, as there are minimal growers in Kashmir engaged in rearing layer chickens. Bhat cited the perception that poultry farming is time-consuming and involves substantial investment as a hindrance to local production. Consequently, the region experiences minimal egg output, and the prices are dictated by external suppliers, leading to a concerning flight of capital.

Bhat called for governmental intervention, urging the formulation of policies to address this issue and incentivising local farmers to engage in layer chicken rearing and egg production.

Meanwhile, industry experts predict that elevated egg prices will persist nationally, citing a sharp 10-15% decline in production as a contributing factor to the current pricing trends.

Amidst the soaring egg prices, consumers are voicing their demand for the establishment of fixed egg prices to alleviate the economic strain. Ali Muhammad, a resident of Srinagar, highlights the paradoxical nature of winter where the demand for eggs rises with the temperature drop, yet so do the prices. He aptly described this phenomenon as a “chilling paradox of affordability.”

Consumers are urging the implementation of fair regulations to ensure that the essential nourishment provided by eggs remains accessible to all, even during the coldest seasons.

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