KARACHI: The crisis triggered by soybean’s acute shortage in the market is daily causing a national loss of 2m to 3m chicks while pushing up prices of poultry products across the country, representatives of Pakistan Poultry Association (PPA) told a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Monday.

“We appeal to the government to direct immediate release of the soybean containers stuck at Port Qasim for over two weeks. The ill-advised step is causing a loss of animals and businesses across the country as well as forcing citizens to buy poultry products at higher rates,” PPA chairman Muhammad Ashraf said, adding that currently four ships each loaded with 6m-tonne of soybean were standing at the port.

The customs authorities, he pointed out, had prevented the importers to off-load their consignments on the ground that the imported pulse was genetically modified seeds and it would be used for plant cultivation.

“This is absurd. The specific pulse, a key component of poultry and livestock feed, is used for crushing purposes and not cultivation. We have been importing this genetically-modified (GM) seed for over two decades and have never faced this kind of trouble,” he said, adding that the government authorities had refused to listen to the reason.

Crisis is pushing up prices of poultry products, says PPA

According to Mr Ashraf, the government authorities earlier issued a no-objection certificate to importers for off-loading imported GM consignments. But, this time they had refused to do so, he said.

“The GM seeds are being used for crushing all over the world. The government’s decision would have far-reaching nutritional implications on the masses, particularly poor households, already under acute pressure due to higher inflation rates. The egg price has gone up from Rs240 per dozen before Nov 20 to Rs295 today,” he said.

The soybean, largely imported from the US and Brazil, he said, was the only source of protein for commercial farm birds and constituted 40 per cent of their meal.

“This vegetable-based protein source is safe and helps the bird grow fast. Unfortunately, no alternative protein source is available in the market,” the PPA chairman explained, adding that 2m to 3m chicks were being dumped daily as feed was unavailable to raise them.

Asked about the fish meal used as a protein source for poultry, the former PPA chairman Ghulam Khaliq said it’s no longer used.

“Farmers using it gradually turned to soybean source two decades back as they found it more beneficial. The kind of fish meal we have had was contaminated, resulting in large bird mortalities. This vegetable-source of protein is contamination-free and helps the bird grow faster.”

The speakers urged the government to take action and save the livelihood of hundreds and thousands of people associated with the poultry industry.

They also emphasised the need for providing protection to availability of corn, the other important ingredient of poultry meal, in the market.

PPA vice chairman (southern region) Ghulam Muhammad also spoke on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2022

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