BANEPA, July 1: Last year, a day-old broiler chick used to cost between Rs 70 and Rs 90 per unit. Despite high price tag, hatcheries were struggling to meet the demand for chicks. However, farmers are not buying chicks this year even though price has come down by a half.
Falling demand for hatcheries forced Nepal Hatchery Industry Association to call a national gathering of poultry farmers and hatchery operators. Some participants said hatcheries should bring down production for the time being to deal with the situation, while others were for stopping production for some time.
“Production cost of chicks is still very high. However, hatcheries are forced to lower the price due to significant rise in production in recent weeks. What is surprising is poultry farmers are not buying chicks even though price has come down,” wondered Balaram Kisi, secretary of the association and promoter of Bhaktapur-based GJ Poultry Farm.
According to Kisi, hatcheries across the country are producing 3.5 million units of chicks every week. “Hatcheries can produce 4.4 million units per week if there is demand. Production of chicks is higher than the demand in the market,” he added.
Data compiled by the association shows that hatcheries had a total of 1.5 million units of broiler parent stock in their farm in Fiscal Year 2016/17. The number was only 600,000 in FY2013/14. The rate of parent stock replacement is increasing with each passing year and production of chicks is seeing a surge accordingly.
“Our cost of production still hovers over Rs 50 per unit,” Kisi said, adding: “Hatcheries have not been able reduce cost of production due to poultry diseases and other management problems.”
There are around 200 hatchery farms in the country which produce broilers (for meat) and layers (for eggs) chicks.
Hatchery operators are also suffering from a cartel of 'big players' in poultry industry. Hatcheries cannot sell chicks to farmers directly. They have to rely on suppliers for feed and to sell chicks. Moreover, farmers cannot put desired breed of chicks in their farms as big dealers and supplies only provide them the breed they have.
“Dealers and suppliers are benefiting from the government's open market, while farmers are suffering. It is high time the government studied poultry business and controlled such ill practices,” a farmer said. “The government must intervene in the market and fix the price of chicks and feed.”