Farmers forced to bury 10 million chicks alive per week

Sunbd Desk || Published: 2020-04-27 06:18:43 || Updated: 2020-04-27 06:18:43

The pandemic has thrown hatchery owners, labourers, and the countrywide poultry industry into a hopeless vacuum as farm owners stopped purchasing chickens from them

Hatchery farmers have been forced to dump at least 10 million unsold chicks amid the coronavirus pandemic due to lack of sales and rumours circulating on social media linking chicken consumption with the novel virus.

The pandemic has thrown hatchery owners, labourers, and the countrywide poultry industry into a hopeless vacuum as farm owners stopped purchasing chickens from them.

According to the Bangladesh Poultry Industries Central Council (BPICC), losses in the poultry industry reached Tk2,000 crore as of April 25, affecting around 6.5 million people employed across the country.

The organization’s data also says over 13 million unsold chicks die every week in the hatcheries, as 10 million have to be buried alive, while the remaining 3 million chicks die of natural causes.

Hatchery farmers say the 13 million chicks are not bought by the poultry farmers, who in turn, blame lack of demand in the markets, as well as an absence of supply chain and distribution methods due to the shutdown.

Poultry sector insiders say if the current trend continues, 60% of the small farms out of 70,000 farms will be forced to shut their businesses, while the medium and large ones would be forced to cut down their production or shut down completely.

The average cost of production for each chick is Tk15 to Tk20. Production companies have been selling them at Tk2 to Tk4 apiece since the last week of March.

Meanwhile, the owners informed that they cannot stop producing chickens at these automated hatcheries instantly since it takes a minimum of 21 days to halt the hatching machine.

Poultry entrepreneurs have sought the government’s intervention to recover losses in the country’s second highest job creating sector.

BPICC President Mashiur Rahman told Dhaka Tribune that small, medium and large poultry farms will face a huge setback.

“Consumers cannot go to the kitchen markets due to the government enforced shutdown, significantly bringing down the demand for meat, eggs, and other such foods,” he said.

PKSF: Multiple reasons behind poultry losses

Development organization Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) said disruption in supply chain, closure of dealer shops, and lack of market demand has led the country’s poultry industry to a standstill.

In a report titled “Covid-19 Pandemic: Impact on Food and Agriculture of Bangladesh” sent to the Finance Ministry, it said hatchery farmers are now forced to sell off their chicks for as little as Tk1 apiece, or even for free, but are not finding any buyers.

PKSF in its report also said production and supply of eggs also faced similar problems.

On the one hand, farmers cannot sell their eggs due to lack of distribution channels, while they have to feed their idle livestock, increasing expenses.

The commercial poultry and dairy industry largely depends on imported feed, vaccine, medicine, additives, and machinery. Restriction in global cargo movement, border closures, shortage of labour and transport blockage also hinders importers from replenishing imported items, says the report.

PKSF also said there was a possibility of a disproportionately larger decline in meat consumption.

The organization also suggested e-commerce as a means to replace kitchen markets as an alternative to selling livestock at the retail level, while ensuring food safety and hygiene methods.

On April 12, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced a new stimulus package of Tk5,000 crore to give financial assistance to small and medium farmers and help them face the fallout of Covid-19.

“The money from this fund will be disbursed among small and medium farmers, including the poultry and dairy sector, in rural areas. We’ll disburse money from this fund among farmers at only 5% interest,” she said.

Welcoming the package, BPICC President Mashiur Rahman urged that loans should be provided to poultry farmers free of interest for at least six to 10 months.

sunbd/sks

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