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‘Keep poultry sector out of hartal, blockade purview’

  • Published at 06:44 pm December 26th, 2013
‘Keep poultry sector out of hartal, blockade purview’

Poultry business leaders urged political parties to save the sector as they claimed it had faced a loss of Tk4,000 crore because of the opposition’s hartals and blockades in the last three months.

The businessmen made the appeal at a human chain held in front of the National Press Club in the city yesterday.

  The Bangladesh Poultry Industries Coordination Committee (BPICC) along with six other poultry associations formed the human chain participated by around 5,000 farmers from Dhaka, Gazipur, Manikganj, Comilla, Sylhet, Barisal, Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar and other parts of the country.

They also threatened tougher movement if their 10-point demands, which include keeping the vehicles carrying chicken, eggs and poultry feed out of the purview of political programmes, are not met. 

They also feared that the downfall of production and supplies might shoot up the prices of chicken and eggs in near future.

“Please take the chicks away with you and feed them. We cannot see them dying as the poultry feed supplies are blocked and its production fell because of political turmoil. We do not have money to buy food for them,” said a poultry farmer.

As a symbolic protest, the farmers gave away a number of chicks and smashed around 5,000 eggs on the street. They warned that next time they would bring lakhs of chicks and release those in front of the residences of the prime minister and the opposition leader.

They also demanded government’s compensation for farms and investors affected in recent political programmes.

Moshiur Rahman, convener of the BPICC, said: “Some 15,000 tonnes of broiler chicken and around 3.15 crore eggs are left unsold every week. The breeders are forced to destroy around 30 lakh one-day-old chicks every week because of scarcity of feed and transport facilities.”

He claimed that about 36,000 farms had already been closed and 70 lakh people in the verge of being unemployed.

“Medicine worth Tk15 crore cannot be sent to the farms every week due to the political unrest. The industry which has an investment of Tk25,000 crore and annual turnover of Tk30,000 crore is at stake,” he added.

Moreover, the poultry sector leaders said they had to pay higher as transportation cost because of the blockades while many vehicles carrying chicks and feed had been vandalised or torched.

Saidur Rahman Babu, general secretary of the Breeders’ Association of Bangladesh (BAB), said they were losing 30-40% of the production cost every day. “If the situation continues, all the farms will have to be shut and the consumers will not get eggs and chickens.”

Kazi Zahedul Hasan, managing director of Kazi Farms Limited and senior vice-president of the BAB, said: “There will be protein crisis in the long run as thousands of farms have already been closed.” Even after a political settlement, the nation would have to face its negative impact, he said.

Kazi Farms MD Zahedul apprehended that the production of egg, chicks and feed might not meet the existing demand, and so the prices might go up.

Fazle Rahim Khan Shahriar, secretary of the Feed Industries Association of Bangladesh, said the feed industry had suffered a loss of around Tk1,000 crore in the last three months.

He demanded waiver of bank interests for six months from October onward.

Taher Ahmed Siddiki, president of the Egg Producers’ Association, demanded cash incentives to run the business and interest-free loan with a minimum two-year term for the small and grassroots farmers.

He also urged the finance minister to take initiatives in adjusting their losses before any other sectors.

Dr M Nazrul Islam, general secretary of Animal Health Companies Association of Bangladesh, termed the ongoing crisis “a disaster – more intense and destructive than bird flu.”

He said: “The industry suffered a loss of around Tk8000 crore from 2007 to 2012 [for bird flu]. But the present disaster [from political programmes] has caused a loss of Tk4,000 crore within only three months.”

Rafiqul Haque, secretary of the World Poultry Science Association of Bangladesh, demanded a tax-free poultry industry up to 2025. He also demanded waiver in port duty for delay and other supplementary taxes.

Annisul Huq, former FBCCI president, labelled the poultry sector as a leading employment generating sector. To him, one-fifth of the total population was directly or indirectly linked with this sector.

He urged the prime minister and the opposition leader to settle their dispute and save the business community.

Dr SD Chowdhury, professor of Bangladesh Agricultural University, said the industry should be protected to ensure health and nutrition of the future generation.

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