LAHORE: Various poultry products are getting dearer by the day. The rate of eggs reached Rs216 per dozen mark on Sunday, breaking all the previous records of the increase in the price in winters.
Chicken meat rate has crossed the mark of Rs300 per kg three weeks ago and it is sustaining at the same level despite cancellation of many wedding ceremonies, which consume a large chunk of chicken meat for a variety of dishes due to the ban in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The district administration of Lahore has notified the rate of eggs as Rs197 per dozen and chicken meat as Rs305 per kg while in the open market, eggs are being sold at Rs216 per dozen and chicken meat at Rs320 per kg. The authorities supposed to implement the official rates are missing from the scene.
Poultry farmers say that the coronavirus lockdowns have led to a decrease in poultry production with the closure of hotels and ban on big marriage ceremonies. Many of these farmers decided to either scale down their businesses or shut some farms altogether when the Covid-19 struck for the first time.
Poultry farmers shift blame onto Covid lockdowns, inflation
A farmer says the closed farms had not yet resumed their normal activities when the second wave of the virus struck while demand for chicken products went up at the drop of the mercury close to zero degree Celsius.
He says the people are also conveniently forgetting that poultry feed rates have also witnessed a surge during the last one year because of a failed maize crop and costlier wheat grain and these factors are also contributing to the hike in poultry prices.
An official of the Pakistan Poultry Association tells Dawn that the intervention of the government in the poultry free market mechanism is to be blamed for the price hike as the farmers had warned the authorities before the setting in of the winter season that artificial fixing of rates by the government were resulting in losses to the farmers and ultimately reduction in production of the poultry products.
“The farmers, during the last six months, were selling day-old chicks and broilers meat at an average price of Rs20 and Rs90-130, respectively against the production cost of a day-old chick at Rs45 and chicken meat Rs160.”
The government was urged to allow a minor increase in the rates that would consequently lead to increase in the production but all requests fell on the deaf ears, he added.
The poultry sector forms about 40pc of the total meat consumption as the poultry industry has an annual turnover of over Rs800bn. It provides direct or indirect employment to over 1.5m people.
The industry is producing 1,322m kg of chicken meat and 17,500m table eggs annually.
Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2020