Frequent strikes, disease threatening poultry industry
KATHMADNU, Aug 12: Increasing chicken deaths coupled with skyrocketing production cost have inflicted heavy loss for the last nine consecutive months to struggling poultry industry, forcing entrepreneurs to either reduce the number chicken in the farms or quit the business.
Reports of bird-flu earlier this year, frequent strikes and lately the attacks of various diseases have threatened the poultry industry, which is one of the rapidly growing industries in the country.
“We have a tentative estimation that around one-third of the poultry farms across the country are either without chickens or the number of chicken has been slashed by around one-third as entrepreneurs are unwilling to keep more chickens in the farms fearing loss due to spread of diseases and rising production cost,” said Dr Til Chandra Bhattarai, poultry researcher.
Bhattarai, who is also president of Nepal Feed Industries Association, said attack of High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI), viral, bacterial and fungal load due to soaring number of poultry population in concentrated areas, Viscerotropic Velogenic Newcastle Diseases (VVND), Ecoli, Mycoplasma and Fowl Cholera are the major diseases found in the major poultry districts including Chitwan.
“Less effectiveness in bio-security applied in the farms due to use of sub-standard vaccines, medicines and other chemicals has resulted in increasing attack of the diseases,” said Guna Chandra Bista, president of Nepal Federation of Poultry Entrepreneurs (NFPE).
Bista said rampant smuggling of poultry products, mainly chicks from India, is also one of the major challenges to control the diseases.
“We are on the verge of losing billions of rupees invested in the poultry sector due to growing threat from number of diseases which can´t be brought under control easily as we lack required expertise and resources. So, we want the government to support us to rein in on the emerging threats to one of the major commercialized sectors which has been suffering loss for the last nine consecutive months,” said Bhattarai.
Around 10,000 small or big poultry farms are estimated to have been operating across the country. Estimated of Rs 32 billion has been put into the poultry with the annual turnover of Rs 50 billion.
According to Bhattarai, price of some of major ingredients of feeds shot up by 134 percent compared to the prices three years back. However, over the period, the feed prices have gone up by in the range of 36 to 50 percent depending on the varieties.
Worse still, the prices of broiler and layer chicks declined to Rs 45 and Rs 89 this year from Rs 61 and Rs 95 per head last year respectively.
Bhattarai also said the number of entrepreneurs quitting the poultry farming would go up if the ongoing situation continues, which has been contributing around 3.5 percent of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Illegal imports of chicks, ready birds and poultry meat from India and high mortality rate and poor productivity in farms has dragged down the prices of poultry products. However, rapid rise in price of soybean, maize and bone mill in international market has driven up the cost of poultry production,” said Tikaram Pokharel, vice president of NFPE. He said entrepreneurs could face more adverse situation if they failed to introduce new technology to ensure effective bio-security to prevent the attack of diseases in the farms.