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Future of poultry industry

March 07, 2005

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There are two poultry farming systems in Pakistan - the small scale or rural, and the large scale or commercial poultry farming. The latter did not exist till 1963.

In 1977, the government decided to improve and develop the rural poultry farming on commercial lines. New breeds like Fayoumi, Dhoki and Red were introduced as these were capable of producing 200-220 eggs per year.

Besides, training, free vaccination, feed management, and cooperative societies for establishing small poultry farms of 50 or more birds were planned. as a result this sector developed considerably.

In 1983, Pakistan produced 3,150 million eggs and 97,710 metric tons of poultry meat of which 1,450 million or 46 per cent eggs, and 53,345mt or 54.6 per cent of meat came from the rural areas which kept on increasing.

Private hatcheries provide chicks of valuable breed. Various foreign breeds like Leghorn, Minorca, Rhode Island Red and Barred Plymouth Rock were imported for egg production, while white Plymouth, Cornish and light Sussex for meat.

Hatchery owners import the parent flocks as day old chicks from the primary breeders abroad. These birds are kept in breeding farms which are then used in hatcheries for producing commercial broiler or layer chicks. Some firms have started importing grand parent stock for the production of parent stock, locally.

Progress of poultry industry remained slow till early 1970s. Since mid-70s the government provided several concessions to private sector such as the income tax exemption, liberal import of parent and grand parent stocks, machinery and equipment, free export of poultry and its products. This improved the growth rate to maximum of 25 per cent annually, till mid 1980s. The number of hatcheries increased from 15 in 1975 to 80 in 1983, production of eggs from 520 million to 1,700 million and the number of broilers from 6.2 million to 40 million.

The first modern hatchery unit was established in Karachi by the Pakistan International Airlines in collaboration with the Shaver - a Canadian firm. Since then there has been great improvement in the industry both in the urban and rural areas.

The number of hatcheries increased from 22 in 1976 to 257 in 1996 and production of day old chicks increased from 15,500 million to 3,10,000 million. Similarly, the number of layers increased from 2,840 million to 10,950 million, production of eggs from 1,159 million to 5,757 million and production of poultry meat from 34,000 tons to 3,55,000 tons.

In 2004, egg production increased to 8,247 million and poultry meat to 4,02,000 tons. The share of meat in 2004 was 18.1 per cent of the total national meat production as compared to its nominal share of 2.46 per cent in 1971-72.

In terms of animal protein source, its share was over 20 per cent. The exponential growth of poultry sub-sector varied from 15-20 per cent, annually at earlier stages and then stabilized at 10 per cent during 90s due to curbs on marketing such as the ban on marriage feasts in 1997.

Export of poultry products started in 1978 and increased by 102 per cent in 1979-80, but started declining in the following years due to severe competition from the countries having big home markets. Lack of refrigerated cargo space, non-availability of space for day old chicks, high air freight charges and the lack of subsidies as paid by other countries are other constraints. For example, India paid 20 per cent subsidy on air export of its poultry products.

The production itself faced many constraints. For example, large quantity of poultry meat was needed in fall, winter and springs but its demand decreased in summers resulting in price reduction. The seasonal production patterns tended to result in poor chick quality and high prices during greater demand periods and reduced demand and falling prices at other periods. The supply of feed is not nutritiously balanced.

There is a lack of feed quality control due the absence of relevant law. Hence the feed is mixed with toxic agents resulting in higher mortality. Diseases like Newcastle, Hydropericardum, Mycoplasmosis, Avian influenza, Bronchitis, Aflatoxicosis, coccidiosis, Gumboro cause high mortality of poultry chicks and birds. Lack of vaccination and veterinary services, and scientific training and marketing organization are some other constraints. The sales tax on new poultry farms and 15 per cent GTS on the import of poultry-related equipment and materials has compounded the situation.

Three foreign fast food companies established their chain of outlets faced problems of obtaining 30,000 to 60,000 chicks per consignment per day due to the provision of 20-30 per cent substandard chicks which suffer from infection. They took permission to import commercial broilers or processed chickens. Due to increasing population, the poultry production has great potential. The industry now is developing on scientific lines and providing the masses low-priced protein food.

A number of processing plants are now operative in the country. There is great potential to develop industry and poultry farming to increase meat production for domestic consumption and export, especially to the Middle Eastern countries.

Recommendations: * The government should ensure that the quality of meat is safe, disease-free and healthy. Processing plants should be made responsible for safe, hygienic, nutritious and healthy chicken meat. The industry should be encouraged to install more plants by providing fiscal incentive and developing policies which will generate more income. For instance, annual sale of chicken meat during 2000 was Rs20 billion. This could be increased.

Production of poultry meat as per international standards should be ensured. Birds should be vaccinated by opening centres and providing veterinary services to poultry farmers. They should be trained about the modern technology. A committee of competent scientists of livestock, poultry, and economist should be formed to monitor this sector and bring it at par with the international standards.