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Increasing Indian Egg Prices Worries District Administrators

27 June 2007

INDIA - District administrators across the State are in a fix over rising egg prices.

The average price of an egg, both in the open market and for supply to the Government’s nutritious noon meal programme, has crossed Rs. 2. In some districts, it costs Rs.2.50, overshooting budgetary estimates. Till a month ago, many districts managed to procure eggs for Rs. 1.80 to Rs.1.90.

An official says the additional expenditure involved may be around Rs.1 crore for a small district and go up to Rs. 2 crore for a large district. Tenders for the next three months, beginning July, have been finalised in some districts, while in others, the administration is trying to negotiate with obstinate traders and manufacturers.

In Coimbatore, for instance, the lowest tender for procurement of eggs was Rs 2.10 an egg last time. This time it is closer to Rs 2.50, a source says. The hike may look marginal, but, since the district needs, on an average, 5.4 lakh eggs, the increase in price works out to an additional expenditure of about Rs.2 lakh a week.

A cross-section of officials involved in the purchase of eggs across the State, contacted by The Hindu, are unanimous on the main reason for the price rise: a cartel based in the western districts. It neither allows other players t o enter nor compromises on price, they add.

‘Marginal’ reasons for the price rise include lifting of ban on the export of eggs to Gulf countries (imposed following the bird flu threat) and the huge demand caused by the tri-weekly egg scheme of the Government to schoolchildren...

In the southern districts, over 15 lakh children are beneficiaries of the free egg scheme, the highest being in Tirunelveli, where the figure is 3.1 lakh.

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Source: The Hindu





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