Egg prices hit record high as farming yet to resume | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 08, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 08, 2008

Egg prices hit record high as farming yet to resume

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Egg prices have shot up abnormally as layer chicken farming marked a drastic slump on bird flu fear among farmers countrywide.
Industry insiders see the 62 percent hike in the prices of the daily necessity as a 'record high'. The item was selling at Tk 26 a 'hali' (four pieces) in Dhaka's different kitchen markets yesterday.
Our correspondent reports from Chittagong that eggs are much dearer there as retailers charge customers Tk28 for four pieces.
“It's a very critical situation. The rate of layer chicken farming dropped over 50 percent in the last one year due to bird flu panic among farmers,” said MA Saleque, programme head of Brac's agro and salt industry.
“The situation will deteriorate further if the present trend continues for the next six months,” he feared.
The panic of bird flu, or avian influenza, which ravaged thousands of layer chicken farms since the first quarter of 2007, is still at large among the farmers as the winter (a suitable weather for bird flu infection) is nearing.
The disease had cost over Tk 4,000 crore the Tk 10,000 crore poultry industry and made thousands of people jobless, according to an estimate of the sector.
Now farmers are avoiding layer chicken farming as they are required to wait then for over five months to have eggs, and the time will fall in winter. But broiler chicken farming is increasing.
According to the industry people, such a panic had decreased the weekly sales of day-old layer chicks to over 60 per cent, or to about 2 lakh. Such weekly sales were about 5.5 lakh a year ago.
“Most of the layer chicken farmers are sitting idle fearing a bird flu attack in the coming winter,” said Kazi Zahedul Hasan, managing director of country's one of the biggest poultry breeders Kazi Farms.
Industry operators said such a slump in the farming, as reflected in the sales of day-old layer chicks, had created supply shortages of eggs at a time when the demand is picking up.
The demand-supply gap is pushing the egg prices up, Zahedul said, suggesting an immediate vaccination to encourage farmers to produce egg.
“Vaccination is not a solution but it's a tool to prevent disease,” said Shah Habibul Haque, in charge of Aftab Poultry.
Moshiur Rahman, managing director of Paragon Poultry, stressed the need for ensuring bio-security as well as proper vaccination to save the sector.
sohel@thedailystar.net

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