Staff Correspondent: The country’s poultry sector is in turmoil, with high bank interest rates forcing local poultry farmers to shut down their farms. To add to their woes, foreign entrepreneurs are also quietly taking over the domestic poultry industry. The sector sources told that about 80,000 farms have shut down.
The president of the Bangladesh Poultry Industries’ Central Council (BPICC), Moshiur Rahman, told, “Five to seven years back ago, we had around 150,000 poultry farms. This has come down to almost half. The figure in 2018 is 70,000.” He said, “First of all, the high interest on loans is the prime reason for the dwindling number of local farms.” He explained that the domestic poultry businessmen are getting bank loans at a rate of 10 to 12 per cent from their local banks whereas foreign entrepreneurs can invest their money at a rate of 2 to 3 per cent because they receive such bank loans from their own countries. “Basically, we don’t have an equivalent level playing field at this moment. We’re losing our competitive advantage in the market,” he complained.
He also pointed out that foreign companies can make large investments and can procure all types of poultry raw materials like corn, wheat, equipment and machinery from abroad. On the other hand, small local poultry farmers have to purchase the machinery from the importers, which adds to the costs of doing business.
Currently, some 35 per cent of the local poultry industry is controlled by foreign companies, he said, adding that these include five to six foreign companies from three Asian countries-China, India and Thailand.
On a positive note, the BPICC president observed that though farm size has dwindled, the overall population-or the number of chickens-has increased. He noted that whereas farmers used to previously breed 5,000 to 10,000 chickens in each farm, they now breed 50,000 to 1 lakh chickens per farm.
Several poultry businessmen have demanded that the interest rate on loans be reduced as otherwise it would be difficult for them to run the farms in the near future. As they pointed out, they are losing their competitive advantage.
The BPICC president said the government should take concrete steps, including lowering the interest rate for small and medium poultry farmers and ensuring that foreign companies are properly monitored.
The secretary-general of the Bangladesh Poultry Industries’ Association (BPIA), Monjur Morshed Khan, told “Large farms can control the market price of poultry items like eggs, feeds and chickens. Such market manipulation is causing acute losses to domestic poultry farmers.”
According to information provided by the BPICC, the poultry sector will create 10,000,000 jobs by 2030 and this sector will soon become the second largest employment-generating sector after readymade garments (RMG).