KOCHI: Chicken dishes may go missing from restaurant menus if poultry farmers refuse to reduce chicken prices in the stand off with the state government said the Kerala Hotels and Restaurant Association (KHRA) on July 10, 2017.
C Biju Lal, Thrissur district secretary of the Kerala Hotels and Restaurant Association, said the implementation of GST has caused a spike in the prices of food in hotels. But after discussions with the government the hotels agreed to take the brunt and reduce the cost. The hotels which have an 18 per cent GST agreed to reduce the cost of food by 8 per cent, while hotels which incur 12 per cent GST agreed to reduce the cost of food by 5 per cent.
However, the agreement was made on the assurance the cost of poultry would be reduced. But hotels and restaurants were hit hard on the first day of the indefinite strike with having to purchase chicken at Rs 140 per kg. The prices are in the control of a few who are lobbying for exorbitant prices, said Lal. The association has already issued a circular to monitor the situation for some time and take chicken off the menu if there is no compromise to reduce the cost.
Smaller hotels too bought additional chicken following the strike. Saleem, a hotel owner at Kokkala Road, said he had to plead with the poultry shops for providing additional meat which he bought at Rs 140. Though he usually buys about seven kg chicken meat in a day, he bought double the amount on Monday considering the shortage that could come up.
T P Saleem, owner of the popular Sapphire hotels in Thrissur, said the restriction on trawling has doubled the cost of fish, while the Central government’s decision to ban the sale of cow in the market has also jacked up the cost. Even mutton prices have increased by Rs 100 per kg.
Hotels consume 40 per cent of the total production of chicken and if poultry farmers do not compromise and agree to reduce the cost, it will become difficult to provide food at low cost. The price rise will not just impact hotels, but also poultry farmers, he said.
At a loss
The Kerala Poultry Farmers Association has rejected the demand by Finance Minister to sell chicken for Rs 87 per kg. While attending a press conference here on Monday, association functionaries said farmers can’t accept the direction by the minister. “It’s impossible to make chicken available for the directed rate. Farmers have to spend more than Rs. 110 towards buying chicks and providing them with foods and medicine,” they said.They also demanded subsidy and financial assistance for farmers in a bid to bring down the price for chicken.
The office-bearers wanted poultry farming to be included in agriculture and all help provided. The other demands of the association were to make the issuance of all licences transparent and to constitute a committee by including representatives of farmers organisations as in other states to prevent fluctuation in prices.