For catering to the nutritional needs of an ever growing population, the contributions of private poultry farms are undeniably to be reckoned with great importance in the nutrition-starved context of the nation. In the backdrop of increasing price hike of other popular sources of animal protein like beef, mutton etc. poultry, relatively cheap source of animal protein, is rapidly emerging as a more widely accessible popular protein option for people of all income tiers, especially the middle and the limited income bracketed people. Unfortunately, though poultry currently meets the 80 per cent animal protein requirement of the nation, the commercial growers and the poultry breeders who make up the backbone of this potentially vital sector are facing some undesirable snags and bottlenecks in going for the fullest marketing exposure.
At present poultry sector contributes around one per cent to the GDP and what is remarkable to note here is the fact that over 85 per cent of the contributions is made by the private entrepreneurs and the remaining below 15 per cent contributions is made by the government sector. Moreover, the private poultry breeders manifestly offers a wide variety of poultry breeds compared to the ones offered by the government. Therefore, it will not be the least exaggeration to say that poultry sector of Bangladesh at the moment almost absolutely depends on the private sector.Across the country the government has a total number of 47 poultry farms out of which 28 farms are meant for chicken and the rest 19 farms are meant for ducks. As against the only 47 poultry farms there are some approximately 10 thousands private poultry farms in the length and breadth of Bangladesh. The government farms produce only Fayouni, Sonali and CPF breeds while the breeds available in the commercial farms include various layer breeds like ISA Brown, ISA White, Hyline Brown, Hyline White etc. as well as different Broiler breeds like Rose, Cobb 500 etc.
But these highly promising commercial poultry farms are now beset with multifarious problems prominent of which obviously include fund constraint, inadequate loans from the commercial banks, marketing limitations, bird flu etc. Since 87 per cent of the total commercial poultry farm owners are limited and marginal farmers, these farmers can hardly run their farms at a stretch for a long time because poultry farms require regular investment of certain amount to purchase feeds. Depending on the partial payment from the buyers, they very often face an acute fund crisis and therefore closing down the farms is the only option left for them.
Although hybrid chicken and ducks are cheaper source of animal protein, some risk factors are involved as far as their feeds are concerned. In the National Food Testing Laboratory, out of 37 chicken specimens tested there after collecting them from capital’s different markets, it has been found that meat of around 28 chicken specimens are contaminated with poisonous chemicals that enter into the stomach of the chicken directly from the feeds eaten by them. Therefore, it is imperative the Food Safety Lab suggests that hygienically safe and secure feeds intake has to be ensured so that this last available protein source can remain intact.
Bird flu is obviously one of the most serious threats to the poultry breeding. From time to time like thousands of poultry farms across the globe are attacked with bird flu. Being a highly infectious and deadly-killer disease, our poultry farms especially the commercial ones had been attacked with bird flu several times in the past that caused irreparable losses to this highly resourceful protein producing fields. As a result of which many commercial poultry farmers had turned pauper.
It is quite disheartening and at the same time unexpected on the part of the government officials that their unpreparedness and lack of necessary technical know-how in combating this highly dangerous disaster has been helplessly exposed before the nation while the sector was stuck up in the disaster. In addition, complaints are there on the routine basis as to the concerned public officials’ and staff’s insincerity and disinterestedness in addressing the grievances and inconveniences of the grass root farmers. Of course, exceptions are still there where many dedicated experts and workers work round the clock for the further promotion and expansion of this core protein-generating source.
Absence of adequate government cooperation and patronage are keenly felt by the commercial breeders in their enterprising efforts and initiatives. First, almost all commercial breeders especially those having neither powerful relatives nor do they have the necessary political clout can hardly avail the existing loan facilities. Providing wide-scale soft loan packages to the practicing poultry farmers and breeders is all the more important thing given the government’s nutritional commitment to the nation.Our highly prospective poultry sector is not only capable of meeting the local needs but they can also assuredly hold out the assurance for export to the overseas. Some suggestions may be considered here in log in the global poultry market. Extensive researches must be promoted for developing advanced and improved breeds. Government must extend all out cooperation to provide necessary back up essential for the private entrepreneurs. Flow of easy loans must be made accessible to all potentially promising and authentic breeders irrespective of their social and political affiliations. Above all, quality feeds have to be ensured and the adulterated feed manufacturers have to be brought to the book.
The writer is an Assistant Professor of English, Bogra Cantonment Public School & College.