Poultry farmers in a double bind

Poultry farmers, who've already been stricken by the epidemic is struggling to stay afloat because of the low cost of chicken that are currently being sold on the market and the sharp increase in the price of feed.

Farmers who run small and medium-sized operations are in the most dire state as they are unable to find a method of recovering losses since the coronavirus outbreak started in March of 2020.

Shahid Hossain Mithu, a farmer of poultry who raised more than 5,000 chickens in Jashore the state of Rajasthan, told me that he had spent Tk 165 to feed every broiler chicken which gained weight until it reached two kilograms (kg) after 36 hours after the hatching.

"It costs Tk 35 to Tk 40 to buy chicks from breeders but since full grown chicken currently sell for between Tk 95 and Tk 100 per kg, I have had to count a loss of about Tk 5 to Tk 10 per bird," said the farmer.

Numerous farmers claimed that the cost of feed as well as the low price of chickens were the major reason for their losses.

This is especially the case for small-scale farms who aren't able to raise their own chicks, or make themselves their own food.

In the last 3 months the cost of each 50-kg bag of feed has increased by 13.6 percent to reach Tk 2,500, up from Tk 2,200 according to numerous feed producers and sellers.

Between seven and 8 lakh tons of food are needed by farmers of poultry throughout the nation each month. And due to the current conditions, many farmers operating small or medium-sized businesses are shutting down their shops.

In the pre-pandemic period around six to seven million people were engaged in the poultry industry, according to Md Anwarul Haique Beg. an associate professor in the poultry department research in Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University.

While there aren't precise figures for how many farmers have closed their business to date, the amount is surely significant.

On the other hand large farms have been able to remain afloat and generate extra income in the sense that they are involved in every aspect of the industry, such as breeding, processing feed, and even selling processed or whole chicken.

Additionally, since the majority of ingredients and raw materials utilized in the production of the production of poultry food are imported outbreak-related disruptions to supply chains have led to price increases.

This has meant that the cost of producing feed has risen by 25 % to 30 % over the past quarter of a year, Beg said.

The cost of soybean meal and maize that comprise 70 to 80 percent of the feedstock, has grown by 50 percent to Tk 30 or Tk 53, respectively, since the beginning of 2019 He added.

The rising cost of soybean meal and maize is responsible for 3 to 4 percent of the current prices for feed.

The cost of chicken feed for broilers was about Tk 50/kg, but it's currently around Tk 53. Similar to that, other kinds of feed which used to cost from Tk 41 and Tk 46 per kilogram now cost Tk 43 - Tk 48 per kilogram for the same price.

In the meantime, the cost of raising broiler chickens has gone up by 9 percent in the last three years.

"So, there is no profit in broiler chicken farming at present," Beg stated.

Md Rakibur Rahman, the owner of Nahar Agro and the president of the Breeders Association of Bangladesh, claimed that the cost at which shops were purchasing poultry from farm farms was much lower than the value of its production.

"Farmers are not getting their expected prices due to lower consumption amid the Covid-19 situation and since farmers need fewer chicks now, many hatcheries have also shut down," said the official.

Around eight million chickens are born each month across the nation, and around 4.5 million eggs are laid every day.

Many feed mills are closing due to the rising cost of raw materials at the international level.

As with poultry farmers, small-scale feed mills too are facing massive losses that could lead to the closure of these mills, Rahman added.

According to experts and farmers It is crucial to set a specific price for chicks' broiler chicken, feed and eggs, in proportion to the production costs in order to ensure the long-term survival of feed mills.

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