19,000 poultry farms still shut, many owners change trade
Out of over 23,000 poultry farms shut down during the bird flu outbreak in the country last year, only 4,210 could make it to resume production in the last few months.
At least 50 to 55 lakh people became jobless due to the closure of poultry farms and the country suffered a loss of Tk 4,165 crore following the bird flu outbreak in the country, said the Poultry Industries Coordination Committee.
Many farm owners said they can't afford to take loans from commercial banks under the prevailing situation as the interest rate is quite high for them.
“The normal interest rate in commercial banks is between 12 and 18 percent. If we take loans at this rate we shall not be able to make any profit under the existing circumstances,” said Arifuzzaman Bhuiyan, the owner of Aqua Land Agro Complex.
The poultry owners pleaded for waiver of all interests against loans they had taken from government banks and provide them with fresh loans.
Meanwhile, many poultry farm owners at Kuturia in Savar have rented out their farms to the garment factories, pesticide companies and training institutes, after incurring losses in poultry business.
“I have decided not to run the poultry farm after incurring losses. I shall spend Tk 2 lakh to refurbish it and rent it to a knitwear factory that has agreed to pay me a monthly rent of Tk 30,000,” said Md Masud Hossain, owner of the Sudha Poultry Farm at Rajashon in Savar.
“All fowls at my poultry farm were culled in February 26. But I had to continue spending money for maintenance of the farm. Later, I reared about 3,500 chickens and now I have to spend Tk 2.20 lakh every month for feeding the birds,” said Aqua Land Agro Complex owner Arifuzzaman.
The poultry farm owners warned that prices of egg and fowl will rise further as poultry farmers are losing interest in this business due to lack of capital and government support, and excessive cost of poultry feed. In the capital, retailers are already selling farm chickens at around Tk 150 a kilogram, a rise from Tk 90 just before the bird flu outbreak.
The demand for eggs in Chittagong alone is half a million pieces every day. But the supply has now reduced to one lakh, they said adding that the shortage of supply would lead to further price hike of eggs in future.
Many poultry farms have just started rearing broiler chickens, not layers that are raised for eggs.
“Broiler chickens which are reared for only meat can be sold within a few days. But if we want to raise layers, we have to take care of those for at least six months and invest more,” said an employee of the Dipa Poultry Farm.
Only eight out of 97 poultry farms stretching an area from Bishmail to Jirabo are currently in operation.
The owner of Rahman Poultry Farm, who has rented out his farm to a pesticide company said despite getting compensation for culling the birds he had incurred a loss of Tk 6 lakh following the culling of 2,400 birds at his farm.
Arifuzzaman Bhuiyan, also secretary general of the Poultry Industries Coordination Committee, said many poultry farm owners are yet to get compensation for culling birds at their farms during the bird flu outbreak.
However, the government gave around 500 farms Tk 12 crore as compensation.
Moreover, the government imposed 10 percent VAT on imported poultry feed items resulting in a hike in their prices.
“The price of a 25 kg sack of Protein Concentrate is now Tk 1,300 which was Tk 800-900 even seven to eight months ago,” said a poultry farm owner who resumed operations of his farm recently on a limited scale.
Assistant Director (farms) of the Directorate of Livestock Faroque Hossain said the government has been trying to subsidise the poultry industry by providing compensations to the affected poultry farms.
“At the same time, provisional registration is being issued to the feed item importers so that they can import poultry feed without the 10 percent VAT,” he added.