Nepal has become self-reliant on poultry products. We no longer have to import eggs and chickens like in the past to fulfill the domestic needs. With this, vast majority of people have access to nutritious food like eggs and chickens. No doubt, this is the result of growing poultry industry in the country. But at times, it seems, poultry industries and intermediaries have established such cartels and syndicates that they can raise the prices of the poultry products whenever they like. The rising price of poultry products in recent weeks is a case in point. Now retail price of chicken has increased to Rs 410 per kg and egg Rs 15 per piece. Last year during February, the price of chicken was around Rs 325 per kg. Nepal Chicken Sellers Association attributes the price rise to grains imported from India and tax increase on such grains. But this explanation is not convincing if we keep in mind how mercilessly the poultry farmers had killed millions of chicks in November and December last year.
The poultry farmers had killed as many as six million chicks across the country during chicken holiday and hatcheries had stopped producing chicks for 10 days. For this, too, they have a lame explanation. Nepal Poultry Farmers Association, for example, claims that the farmers did that because they were bearing the huge loss in their business. We wonder how killing chicks helps to recover the losses. They argue that suppliers and middleman are the ones who are increasing the price abruptly because they buy chicken in low prices from farmers and increase the price of chicken in the market. If that is the case, it is clear that the nexus of middlemen and suppliers is bigger and more entrenched than we assume.
Those associated with poultry business also point to cheaper Indian imports for price rise. They say that though the government has put a ban on poultry imports from India to ensure that Nepal’s poultry farmers get better returns, unscrupulous traders bring poultry products from India. If that is the case, it has to be checked. Department of Commerce Supplies and Consumer Protection, the government body responsible for maintaining fairness and transparency in the market, is reportedly monitoring the situation to find the actual reason behind the increase in the price of chicken. This has to be sped up. But the common sense tells that the rise in prices is the direct result of killing of chicks by poultry farmers. They killed the chicks and buried them. They are even found to have killed the chicks by pouring boiling water upon them. This cruel practice should have been punished in the first place. But the government authorities took no action against them. Now they have raised the chicken price in such a way that it has become almost unaffordable for the poor and low-income households. The government needs to investigate who is responsible for rising price of poultry products and bring them to book.