The extreme rains that affected many parts of the country including Blitar, East Java in recent months have worried poultry farmers in the regency as the rains have caused a further scarcity of corn, which is used for chicken feed.

Sukarman, the head of local cooperative Koperasi Putera in Blitar, said the price of corn had begun to surge in recent weeks, reaching Rp 4,800 (US$0.35) per kilogram, Rp 800 higher than the price the government has set for poultry farmers.

“The corn price continues to increase, yet the egg price keeps plummeting,” he told The Jakarta Post on Jan. 2.

According to the Trade Ministry’s regulation, chicken eggs should be priced somewhere between Rp 19,000 and Rp 21,000 per kilogram. Chicken eggs are currently sold at Rp 19,400 per kilogram in the region, below the price ceiling, Sukarman said.

“We’re still making a profit at the current egg price, but we’re worried the price will drop further sometime this month,” he said, adding that the price had soared before Christmas, but quickly dropped three days after the holy day.

To exacerbate the situation, Sukarman said poultry farmers in the region had also struggled to find corn in the market, making it that much harder for them to feed their chickens. Corn had become increasingly scarce as some farmers had shifted to other crops such as rice ahead of the rainy season, he said.

The prolonged drought late last year also affected the productivity of poultry farmers in Blitar, with a decline recorded in the quality and quantity of chicken eggs over the last few months.

Blitar accounts for 50 percent of East Java’s chicken egg production, with 18 million chickens producing 155,802 tons of eggs in 2018. East Java contributes 30 percent to national egg production.

Poultry farmers in the region need between 1,500 and 2,000 tons of corn per day to feed their chickens and maintain their productivity.

In October 2018, poultry farmers staged a massive protest in the region when the prices of corn and eggs reached Rp 5,500 and Rp 15,000 per kilogram, respectively. Dozens of them also staged a similar protest in front of the State Palace in Jakarta.

Blitar Animal Husbandry Agency head Adi Andaka said the corn price hike was a problem that poultry farmers regularly faced at least once a year, especially during the rainy season.

“What’s actually more worrisome than the corn price is the availability of corn itself,” Adi said, while urging the central government to take swift action to prevent further scarcity. (rfa)