July 28, 2004


Flood In Bangladesh Adds To Troubles Of Poultry Industry


Hardly recovered from bird flu scare, Bangladesh's poultry industry is faced with yet another major crisis with half of the country's 25,000 farms submerged by flood.


Most of the farms and hatcheries in Savar, Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Narsingdi, Kishoreganj, Mymensingh, Brahmanbaria, Sylhet, Tangail, Manikganj and a few in Gazipur have gone under water, forcing owners to sell eggs, chicks and chickens at throwaway prices suspending production.


Kazi Zahin Hasan, director of Kazi Farms, a leading hatchery, said if water levels of major rivers continues to rise for another one week, with the exception of a few, all farms will be ravaged completely.


"The big hatcheries and farms may overcome the damage by ploughing back their earlier profits but it will be hard for the small ones to fight back as they may not get enough money to reinvest," he said.


"Though the price of eggs has jumped to Tk 20 for four, the price of broiler meat is still stable. But it may also go up if the production is disrupted for two more weeks," Kazi said.


The price of hatched eggs has come down to Tk 14 from Tk 19 in the lpast week as demands fell due to shortage of dry space for rearing.


Syed Abu Siddique, advisor to Bangladesh Poultry Industries Association, said some flood-hit farms have moved to dry spaces. However if the water level continues, there will be no dry areas for them to shelter the chicks.


Flood has not yet taken a serious turn in Gazipur district, the poultry hub of the country and major supplier of consumers of Dhaka city. If flood destroys farms in Gazipur, then the consumers in the capital will have to bear the brunt, he said.


"The multi-storied farms may mitigate the loss but the small farmers will lose everything. They are still counting the loss incurred by the fall in the prices of eggs and chickens during the bird flu scare. This flood may become the last nail in the coffin," he said.


Siddique said the transportation problem is causing a supply shortage and contributing to the rise in the price of eggs and meat. Poultry meat is selling at Tk 70 to Tk 75 which is stable.


Chicken consumption in Bangladesh has come down to about one-third of the normal level, thereby resulting in a drastic price fall and huge losses to the broiler farms and hatchery owners during the January-March period due to bird flu scare.


About 15 crore broiler chicks are produced in Bangladesh a year, which have to be reared for 35 days before they are ready for sale. Transaction in the broiler industry is estimated at Tk 1,238 crore a year and the industry employs about three lakh people.

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