In the last part of a three-part series the Dhaka Tribune explores the challenges small poultry farmers face in Bangladesh
The poultry sector in Bangladesh needs more investment and the overhaul of existing policy to meet government goals, stakeholders say.
The sector contributes between 1.5 and 1.6% to the national GDP. It is the second largest industry after readymade garments, according to the Centre for Policy Dialogue.
Stakeholders say that despite struggling with bird flu, the sector is currently producing 28 million eggs and about 4,000 tons of chicken daily.
Recently, the government set up the ‘Nutrition Security and Vision–2021’. One of its objectives is to promote and ensure poultry items as safe food with cheaper prices for everyone.
Bangladesh Poultry Industries Central Council (BPICC) President, Moshiur Rahman, citing their data, said the sector would need to produce two million tons of chicken and 15 billion eggs annually by 2021.
According to the BPICC report, ‘Poultry Industry in Bangladesh’, an investment of Tk55,000-Tk60,000 crore is needed to achieve the 2021 production goals.
So far, the sector has attracted investment of about Tk30,000 crore.
BPICC chief Moshiur said current direct employment in the sector was two to two and a half million people. An estimated three and a half million others were indirectly engaged in the sector. Overall, about 40% of the workers in the industry are women.
He said: “Biogas, organic fertilizer, and electricity can be generated from poultry waste. Poultry recycling can be a good resource for energy production if we get more support from the government.”
Stakeholders claim the industry’s growth has also helped curb chronic malnutrition among children, which, according to Save the Children, was 60% in 1997 and came down to 41% in 2011, before dropping to 19%.
Between 2009 and 2011, the poultry sector’s growth rate was 15%, which went up to 20% in 2016.
Poultry farmers said issueslike the closure of poultry farms across the country hinder the sector’s development. They urged the government to introduce insurance, overhaul the existing policy, and to provide easy loan facilities.
Huvepharma, South East Asia President, OP Singh, said Bangladesh needs to formulate an action plan for a sustainable industry.
Former general secretary of World Poultry Science Association’s Bangladesh branch (WPSA-BB), Md Sirajul Haq, credited private entrepreneurs for the sector’s development.
The government needs to provide 5% interest loans he said, adding: “Poultry insurance is needed to help small and medium entrepreneurs make up for losses if they face any disaster such as bird flu.”
About 10 million people are expected to be dependent on the poultry industry by 2030, according to BPICC, which says the number and the sector’s contribution to GDP would be higher if the government paid more attention to it.
BPICC President Moshiur suggested upgrading existing policy. Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute Director General, Dr Nathu Ram Sarkar, agreed.
“We have technological and managerial skills, but we don’t have financial capacity and hassle-free land. These are the biggest obstacles,” said Bangladesh Poultry Industries Association Secretary General, Manzur Morshed Khan.
Speakers at a recent WPSA-BB roundtable said the sector would have to increase egg and chicken production to meet growing demand. The per capita yearly chicken consumption was only 6.3kg in 2016, but it is expected to rise to around 45-50kg in 2050.
Stakeholders also proposed allowing local companies to produce vaccines, bring vaccination coverage to backyard poultry , and arrange bio security and safe poultry production training for farmers and concerned officials .
WPSA-BB President Shamsul Arefin Khaled said 14 of the 17 SDG goals were in one way or another, linked to the poultry sector.
Fisheries and Livestock Minister Narayon Chandra Chanda said: “The lion’s share of chicken meat and eggs is being produced by the poultry industry which has created job opportunities. So, the welfare of the millions of poultry farmers should be taken care of.”