THE scene: a big shed at Rasakkapalayam, 5 km from Pollachi town near Coimbatore. Hundreds of fully-grown chickens are milling around. Their crowing fills the air. A foot above the sheds floor, a pipeline runs horizontally with nozzles located at regular intervals. Whenever a cock or a hen feels thirsty, it pecks at the nozzle, which opens up to allow drops of water to fall. The bird puts its beak to the nozzle to drink the water drops. There are some 20,000 birds in several such sheds at Vimal Poultry Farm belonging to A.D. Kannappan.
Kannappan, one of the 15,000 contract farmers attached to Suguna Poultry Farm Limited, Coimbatore, has invested Rs.1 crore and is getting a steady income from poultry farming. Suguna, which revolutionised the concept of broiler sales by contract farming, has launched processed chicken called Daily Fresh, and value-added eggs, branded Suguna Heart and Suguna Active.
Daily Fresh is our new initiative, said B. Soundararajan, managing director of Suguna. Ninety-nine per cent of the companys revenue during the current financial year came from the sale of chickens.
The company introduced Daily Fresh, selling chicken without packing, as packing attracted tax and because people liked to see the chicken they bought. Daily Fresh chicken is processed at Sugunas modern processing plant at Udumalpet. Suguna Active, with its content of DHA, vitamin E and selenium, is suitable for children, adults, pregnant women and lactating mothers. Suguna Heart, enriched with Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, has 24 per cent less yolk cholesterol than ordinary eggs.
Suguna Heart and Suguna Active are sold in packs containing six eggs of uniform size. Daily Fresh and these value-added eggs are our two initiatives, said Soundararajan.
The group has already launched Suguna Pro and Suguna Shakti, two varieties of farm-fresh eggs with more proteins, vitamin A and lutein. With its concept of branded eggs, Suguna expects to help the poultry farmer realise a better price for table eggs, said K. Ravindran, general manager, sales and marketing.
Kannappan sells the eggs laid by his birds to Suguna, which in turn sends the eggs to other farmers in the chain, who, with the help of brood hens, hatch them and breed them for 40 to 42 days. Such farmers include S. Ravikumar, P.N. Ramanathan, G. Radhakrishnan and T. Rangaraj. Suguna buys these 42-day-old birds, called broilers, and sells them to retailers. Suguna provides the feed and veterinary care for the birds. Farmers receive growing charges.
We are operating in 12 States. We are the biggest in all these States, said Soundararajan. In the last financial year, Sugunas turnover stood at Rs.1,450 crore. It might touch Rs.2,000 crore this financial year ending March 31, he said. Suguna has 18 per cent of the market share in broilers in India.
To shore up its infrastructure as part of its expansion drive, Suguna is setting up its own feed mills to produce the feed for the birds. A feed mill built at a cost of Rs.60 crore would be commissioned in Bangalore. More feed mills and processing factories would be set up in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal. Soundararajan said: This is capital investment. The feed mill in Bangalore is the biggest in Asia.T.S. Subramanian