COVID-19 hit poultry business in KP seeks govt. attention:

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By Fakhar Alam

PESHAWAR, Apr 19 (APP):The surging cases of corona virus in the country had an adverse impact on poultry products in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a substantial decrease in chicken prices owing to closure of restaurants, wedding halls and tourists destinations.

Thousands of laborers attached with 3,300 poultry farms including 148 controlled sheds and 300 eggs production units were hit hard by havoc being played by corona virus pandemic in KP where 25 persons became its victims since April 11.

The price of a chicken was Rs140 per kg prior to pandemic but as soon as the infections surged, cities went in lockdowns and hotels, wedding halls and restaurants were closed, resultantly price of chicken per kg dropped to Rs 115.

The poultry sector is producing 11 million day-old chicks in a month with the help of 1.5 million people attached directly or indirectly with the industry. These people are afraid of becoming jobless if the pandemic prolongs.

Talking to APP, Vice President, KP Poultry Association, Ashraf Khan said, “Corona virus situation has marred poultry business during last two months. The price of one kg broiler chicken has dropped by Rs 25 as its current production cost is Rs. 140 per kilogram against which farmers are getting Rs.115 these days in open markets”.

A day-old broiler chick is currently being sold at record low Rs. 5 against production cost of Rs 45, he said, adding companies were reluctant to increase production owing to drastic decrease in chicken sale.

He anticipated further shortage in supply of chicken and eggs in the upcoming months because of extremely low consumption due to closure of restaurants, hotels, birthday, and wedding parties’ activities.

“Once the situation returns to normal after opening of schools, hotels, restaurants, wedding halls, the demand of chicken would increase manifolds and its prices would shoot up especially during Ramazan.”

Ashraf said millions of rupees had been lost by poultry investors due to corona virus and sought a mega financial package for revival of dwindling poultry industry.

Dr Mazhar Khan, Veterinary Officer, Livestock Department said that corona virus has made an adverse impact on indigenous poultry farming, which was mostly a backyard venture till 1960s. he said, “The indigenous chicken and eggs business had been jolted by the pandemic due to disruption of supply and demand chain between villages and cities.” Resultantly, prices of eggs and chicken have witnessed a sharp decrease of Rs 25-30 per dozen eggs and Rs. 100-150 per chicken in open markets, he added.

Dr Alamzeb Khan, Director General, Livestock and Dairy Development Department KP said that substantial losses have been witnessed by poultry owners, milkmen, butchers, transporters and others stakeholders associated with livestock and poultry productions due to corona virus pandemic in last two months.

“These losses were being evaluated by a high-level Task Force led by Additional Chief Secretary KP and on basis of its recommendations, an inclusive package would be prepared to help poultry and livestock farmers affected by the pandemic,” the DG said.

Dr Alamzeb said KP was mostly relying on Punjab for chicken and meat requirements and plans were under-consideration regarding opening of cattle markets at least one each in all districts in a week. He said poultry meat contributes 37pc in overall meat consumption and sufficient stock was available in markets to fulfill peoples’ requirements.

Dr Alamzeb feared that if coronavirus was not contained during next few months then about 50,000 poultry workers are likely to lose jobs and poultry’s productivity would be adversely affected.

Mohibullah, Provincial Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Department said special package for poultry farmers affected by corona virus situation was under consideration.

Under PM’s Backyard Poultry Program worth Rs834.81million, he said the department would help the affected farmers by distributing five hens and one rooster among them.

He said poultry program was launched last year under aegis of PM”s National Agricultural Emergency Programme worth Rs 309.7 billion, under which one million poultry birds would be distributed in next four years among poor people in KP.

Livestock Minister said wheat harvesting season would formally commence from DI Khan on April 20 that would substantially reduce prices of livestock and poultry’s feed and sale of poultry situation would be improved.