Dhaka, Bangladesh
Poultry potential in paradox

Poultry potential in paradox

Small farms going bust for cost hike

Mazharul Islam Mitchel Concentration and contraction come as a paradox in Bangladesh's rather potential poultry industry that began to flourish as a boon for educated youths every nook and cranny of the country. Rapidly growing poultry farms, almost in all rural areas, did two macroeconomic good of the nation: mitigating unemployment and meeting nutritional needs of people. Many jobseekers turned back and became entrepreneurs. But two recent developments are posing a spell of doom on the small-scale farms, sector-insiders said. One is price spiral of chicks, feed, medicines and ancillary ingredients and the other is uneven playing field created by big ventures from home and abroad, the sources said. The News Today tried to do a reality check of the sector through in-depth analyses and interviews of the stakeholders. The output is being published in three installments. The findings show that rising prices of poultry chickens, feed, medicines and other items in the last six months are worrying around 60 per cent of poultry farmers in the country as they are incurring losses. Poor investment and a lack of care also cast a negative impact on this sector, experts said. Bangladesh Poultry Industries Central Council (BPICC), an apex body of the poultry associations in Bangladesh, said at least 40 percent small and medium-sized poultries across the country had stopped their activities in last six months for the crisis of existence. BPICC leaders claimed that the prices of poultry chickens, feeds and medicines have increased for the last two years. But prices of some ingredients of feed and medicines have increased most in the last six months. Bangladesh Agro Feed Ingredients Importer & Traders Association (BAFIITA) is an agro-based import and trading concerns' association. Its members are involved with import and supply of quality feed ingredients to livestock feed-manufacturing industries. BAFIITA president Subir Chowdhury told this correspondent that all raw materials of poultry feed come from three countries - Brazil, India and the USA. "We are fully import-dependent to meet our local demand." Bangladesh has to import 50 percent of maize, 40 percent soybean oilcakes and 80 percent of master oilcakes that go for total feed production, he added. He claimed insufficient support coming from the government to this sector, which is increasingly getting linked to global multinationals in respects of production and imports of raw materials. The association president said the government imposed additional 2.0% VAT in the new value-added structure. So, the price has increased currently. On the other hand, the government also imposed VAT on shipping charge and local carrying cost. The port authority doesn't release the raw materials in due time. The demurrage issues are becoming common phenomena. So the feeding cost is increasing day by day. He also invited government officials to sit for a dialogue and find out the solutions needed for giving the industry a boost. BPICC leaders said there are 70,000 poultry farms across the country. Of them, the number of government-registered parent stock chicks (PS) farms is 205 and grandparent stock (GP) farms 15. Department of Livestock authorities said poultry farmers can get profit of around Tk 10,000 by rearing 500 poultry chickens for 30 to 40 days, but they are incurring loss now owing to price spirals of chickens, feed and medicines. Tajul Islam, a poultry farmer of Asannagar village under Kotchandpur upazila, said he set up a poultry farm in 2000 and got good profit. He sells poultry feed and chickens and also rears poultry. Nowadays, his trade is dull in comparison with previous years and he is counting losses due to increasing prices of chickens, feed and medicines. Another poultry farmer, Suman Sarder, said the price of broiler chickens has come down alarmingly while the minimum rearing cost is Tk 200 to Tk 240 per chicken weighing around 2.0kg. Suman Sarder of Naogaon district said the price of poultry feed has risen up to Tk 30 from Tk 20, oilcake up to Tk 32 from Tk 14 and medicines up to Tk 120 from Tk 60 in the last six months. On the other hand, the price of poultry has not increased. Amir Hossain of the same district said he purchased 2,000 poultry chickens this year and counted a huge loss due to increasing prices of poultry-rearing items. "Besides, local banks are not offering loans on easy installments," he added. A poultry-feed trader, Md Aynuddin, said the selling of poultry feed is profitable but the government does not take care of it. Chicken-producing hatchery Kazi Farm and feed-producing Nourish Farm are doing monopoly business, he added. Bangladesh's poultry executives also claim climate change poses a major management and operational problem as blazing temperatures cause heat stress and incite livestock disease, increasing mortality rates. Industry-insiders say that vector-borne diseases and cases of low-pathogenic avian flu, fowl cholera, Newcastle disease, heat stroke and gumboro (infectious bursal disease) are promoted by higher temperatures in sub-tropical Bangladesh. "It's now becoming almost impossible to control temperature in shades," said Munzur Murshid Khan, secretary-general of the Dhaka-based Bangladesh Poultry Industries Association. Bangladesh Meteorological Department says that temperatures in the country rose 1-1.34C (Celsius) on average over the past century, with an annual average temperature of 25C, with monthly means between 18C in January and 29C in August. "Birds are suffering, their productivity is decreasing, mortality rate is increasing - we're witnessing these," Khan told The News Today, referring to the impact of climate change. "People are forced to shift towards controlled house farming from open house farming." This may mean more investment, which is expected to generate major demands for capital within an industry that has grown at a rate of 15 percent annually over the past 10 years and has already attracted an investment worth more than USD 3.0 billion over the same period, according to the Bangladesh Poultry Industries Central Council (BPICC). Mehran Rahman, director at the integrated poultry producer Paragon Group Ltd, said his company installed 'controlled' house in the 1990s, which keeps farm air flow, cooling, temperature and humidity at the standard level. SD Chowdhury, Professor of Nutritional Biotechnology at Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh, is pioneering research to discover the "effective nutritional and biotechnological means" to combat the effects of heat stress and high humidity on poultry production. Suman Sarder further said his business collapsed due to effect of climate change. He cannot afford the prices of modern sheltering system for birds. His losses were nearly Tk 28 lakh in this business. (To be continued)

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