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Export of chicken feet to China becomes a thriving business

Updated January 27, 2019

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A boy unloads chicken feet from a wheelbarrow in Peshawar. —Dawn
A boy unloads chicken feet from a wheelbarrow in Peshawar. —Dawn

PESHAWAR: Chicken feet have become a major export from the provincial capital to China in the recent months unlike the past when they were usually discarded.

Around 1,300 kilogrammes of chicken feet are collected from the markets of the provincial capital on a daily basis and transported to Islamabad for onward shipping to China.

The chicken feet, which were usually disposed of or given away free of charge to the people, who can’t afford to buy poultry, have now become a rare commodity in the local market.

A market adjacent to the Bacha Khan Chowk, previously called Chergano Chowk, which serves as the major chicken supply centre for the city and adjacent areas, has become a hub of chicken feet business. Workers start collecting chicken feet from different places in the afternoon and continue doing so until 11pm.

Chicken paws are transported to Islamabad every night before being processed in a factory of the I-9 sector.

After initial treatment, the feet are exported to China, where they are used in several Chinese cuisines, served as asnack, cold dish,soupor main dish.

Exporter’s assistant says 1,000-1,300kg chicken feet sent from Peshawar to Islamabad every night

Dealers said chicken feet had become the most sought-after item since its export to China began around four months ago.

They said the retail price of chicken feet ranged between Rs60 and Rs70 per kilogramme, while its wholesale rate was Rs40-50 per kg.

“Chicken feet are the most inexpensive parts of chicken’s body. We usually throw them away or give them to the poor people at the nominal price. Dealers do not sell it to retailers since its export began to China,” said Bacha, a chicken dealer in the cantonment area.

He said an agent of the exporter visited chicken slaughter centres in cantonment area in the late evening and collected all chicken feet.

Shah Hussain, assistant of the local exporter, told Dawn that two Chinese businessmen had visited the local market four months ago and placed orders for chicken feet.

He said the chicken feet were collected from the market on a daily basis and transported to a factory in Islamabad.

“I don’t know exactly whether chicken feet are exported to China or any other country,” said Shah Hussain.

He said the price of feet had witnessed a sharp increase since he started its collection from the market.

“Sometimes, the price jumps to Rs60 per kilogramme,” he said, adding that 1,000-1,300kg chicken feet are transported from Peshawar to Islamabad every night.

Shad Mohammad, another dealer in the market, said the Chinese businessmen had struck a deal with a local contractor to collect chicken feet in Peshawar and dispatch them to Islamabad for onward export to China. “We never thought that this inexpensive part of chicken’s body will find a market abroad,” he said.

Earlier, the Chinese businessmen used to import turtles from Peshawar, Mardan and other areas without official permission. The wildlife department had placed a ban on the hunting of turtles.

Officials in the directorate of livestock are unaware of the export of chicken feet to China.

An official concerned said Pakistan had yet to sign the livestock trade agreement with China and therefore, the directorate was unaware of the export of chicken feet.

He said the Chinese authorities had shown interest in importing donkeys from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The official said the two countries didn’t have any bilateral agreement and therefore, the export of donkeys was in limbo.

The Pervez Khattak-led last PTI government had organised a two-day road show in Beijing in April 2017 and offered the annual export of around 80,000 donkeys to China.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2019