- Retail broiler chicken price has gone up, but it has not increased at farmers' level
- The retail price has risen by about 36% in a month
- Price of a one-day-old broiler chick has gone up from Tk10 to Tk60.
- The number of marginal poultry farmers in the country is six million
- At least 1.25 crore people are directly and indirectly involved in the sector
Despite pricier eggs and chicken, poultry farmers say they are struggling to survive thanks to low prices of chicken at farmers' level coupled with a sharp rise in feed prices.
For instance, Al Mamun, a poultry farmer from Faridpur, said he reared 1,000 broiler chickens in a batch as the cost was Tk2.42 lakh.
Selling the chickens at the current market price of Tk130 per kg, Al Mamun got Tk2,34,000, incurring a loss of Tk8,000 from the batch of broiler chickens.
Al Mamun described his business condition at a meeting organised by the Bangladesh Poultry Industry Forum at Economic Reporters Forum auditorium in Dhaka on Saturday. The meeting was attended by more than 15 poultry farmers from across the country.
The farmers said even though the prices of broiler chickens and eggs have skyrocketed in the country, marginal farmers are incurring losses constantly. Although the retail price of broiler chickens has gone up, the farmers are counting losses as the prices have not increased at farmers' level.
At present, broiler chickens are being sold at Tk170-Tk180 per kg and eggs at Tk110-115 per dozen in the kitchen markets of the capital.
But, at the farmers' level, the price of broiler chickens is TK130 per kg. Thus, the lion's share of the profit is taken away by the syndicate of traders.
The Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) says the price of broiler chickens in the retail market has risen by about 36% in a month.
Md Alamgir, a farmer from Munshiganj, said only three months ago, a sack (50 kg) of chicken feed was sold at Tk2,200, but the same is now being sold at Tk2,750. Chicken feed manufacturers have announced an increase of the price by Tk100 within a week. On the other hand, the price of a one-day-old broiler chick has gone up from Tk10 to Tk60.
Manik Sheikh, a farmer from Rajbari, said poultry farms have now become a source of loss for entrepreneurs. "We are producing, but a syndicate of brokers is taking away the profits", he alleged.
At a recent press briefing, the association of animal feed manufacturers said that the price of soybean meal has gone up by 41.18% and maize by 60% in one year. As a result, they are being forced to increase the price of food. To produce poultry feed, 50%-55% maize and 25-30% soybean meal are used.
Feed Industry Association Bangladesh (FIAB) General Secretary Md Ahsanuzzaman claimed that 70-75% demand of the country's feed industry is met by soybean meal produced by local edible oil processing companies.
Meanwhile, the government has allowed soybean meal export to India. Since the export permission was obtained, local producers have been syndicating and increasing the price of the raw material.
Meanwhile, farmers claim that due to the increased price of raw materials, their production costs are rising. But fixing the price of broiler chickens and eggs is not in the hands of the farmers. A syndicate of traders controls the prices.
Kawsar Ahmed, another farmer from Brahmanbaria, said, "We are in debt because of the losses. We are not able to determine the price. A syndicate of traders supplying our products to the market is determining the price."
"At the same time, the price of chicks and poultry feed is being increased by a syndicate," he added.
Farmers said that due to low demand during the lockdown, chickens and eggs had to be sold at prices lower than the cost of production. As a result, marginal farmers have become indebted through counting continuous losses. They are struggling to manage their farms with the increased prices of feed and chicks.
According to the Bangladesh Poultry Industry Forum, the number of marginal poultry farmers in the country is six million. At least, 1.25 crore people are directly and indirectly involved in the sector.
If the situation in this sector continues to deteriorate, the livelihood of hundreds and thousands of families will be at risk, creating a negative impact on the country's economy. For this reason, farmers have demanded that a policy be formulated to protect their interests.
At the meeting, Dr Latiful Bari, principal scientist of the Food Analysis and Research Laboratory under the Centre for Advance Research Sciences of University of Dhaka, told the farmers to prepare feed for their farms so that they do not have to depend on the feed industry.
He said, "We have the technology by using which farmers will be able to make chicken feed. This requires training. If this can be done, it will be possible to reduce the cost of poultry feed by half."
Chashi Mamun, president of Bangladesh SME Forum and founder of Bangladesh Poultry Industry Forum, said the forum will take immediate steps to train farmers in poultry feed manufacturing in each district. At the same time, he urged the government to come up with a policy as soon as possible to protect marginal farmers.
At the event, the farmers raised 11 demands before the government. They include stopping unreasonable price hike of feed and chicks, opportunity to fix prices of farm produce, exemption of VAT and tax on poultry raw materials, stop to soybean meal export to India and easy disbursement of loans.
Farmer Masuma Khanum read out the demands.