LAHORE: Various poultry items are becoming more expensive by the day. On Sunday, the egg rate hit Rs216 per dozen mark, shattering all previous records of winter price rises.
Three weeks ago, the chicken meat average surpassed the Rs300 per kg mark and it is held at the same pace despite the cancellation of several wedding ceremonies that consume a large chunk of chicken meat for a variety of dishes due to the ban in the wake of the pandemic of Covid-19.
The Lahore district administration has registered the cost of eggs as Rs197 per dozen and chicken meat as Rs305 per kg, while eggs are sold at Rs216 per dozen on the open market and chicken meat at Rs320 per kg. The officials in charge of enforcing the official prices are absent from the scene.
Poultry farmers claim that, with the closing of hotels and the ban on major marriage ceremonies, the coronavirus lockdowns have contributed to a decline in poultry production. When the Covid-19 hit for the first time, many of these farmers chose to either scale down their businesses or close down some farms entirely.
Poultry farmers shift blame onto Covid lockdowns, inflation
A farmer says that when the second wave of the virus struck, when demand for chicken goods rose at the drop of mercury to zero degrees Celsius, the closed farms had not yet resumed their usual operations.
He says people also quickly ignore that poultry feed costs have also seen a spike over the last year due to a failed maize crop and costly wheat grain, and these factors are also adding to the rise in poultry prices.
Dawn is told by an official of the Pakistan Poultry Association that the government’s interference in the poultry free market system is to be blamed for the price rise as the farmers had warned the authorities before the setting of the winter season that the government’s artificial fixing of prices resulted in farmers losing and eventually reducing poultry production.
Farmers have been selling day-old chicks and broiler meat for the past six months at an average price of Rs20 and Rs90-130, respectively, against the cost of production of day-old chicks at Rs45 and chicken meat at Rs160 respectively.
The government was advised to accept a modest rise in the prices that would result in an increase in demand, but he added that all demands fell on the deaf ears.
As the poultry industry has an annual turnover of over Rs800bn, the poultry market accounts for over 40pc of the overall consumption of meat. It provides over 1.5m individuals with direct or indirect jobs.
1,322m kg of chicken meat and 17,500m table eggs are produced annually by the industry.