Relief sought for poultry sector

Food ministry requests ECC to delay bank instalments for one year


Shahram Haq May 03, 2020
Some stakeholders said that the recent move of the food ministry would not benefit farmers because majority of them had not availed any loan facility. PHOTO: REUTERS

LAHORE: The Ministry of National Food Security and Research has given a proposal to facilitate the country’s emerging poultry sector, which is bearing the brunt of Covid-19 pandemic just like other sectors.

In a document prepared by the ministry, it has urged the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) to delay bank instalments and mark-up on the loans availed by the poultry sector for one year - a scheme which would require approximately Rs4.7 billion.

The proposal was made after the government of Pakistan announced a relief package of over Rs1.2 trillion to aid the economy in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.

Out of this package, an amount of Rs100 billion has been earmarked to provide relief to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the agriculture sector.

It remains unclear whether the poultry sector will be accommodated under the package announced for small business or not. Under the said package, the government will facilitate commercial users and pay their three months’ electricity bills.

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Officials from Pakistan Poultry Association (PPA) seem to be unaware of the recent development from the food ministry as they claimed that they were already in contact with concerned authorities to help pay off three months’ electricity bills of control sheds.

“This amount (Rs4.7 billion) is meant to support the country’s poultry sector to pay off their three months’ electricity bills and it is not aimed at delay in loans and interest repayments,” insisted PPA General Secretary Javaid Bukhari while talking to The Express Tribune.

Chicken meat is the most popular protein diet for Pakistani masses as its cost is largely within the reach of the majority of people.

Unlike mutton (red meat) which does not fall within the affordability of middle and lower middle class, the rates of white meat hover at an average of Rs200 per kilogramme. Sometimes, the price of per kg chicken falls even lower than some of the major pulses consumed in Pakistan.

Chicken meat has attracted many small and medium scale investors in the past who invested in control sheds and other forms of poultry farming. According to PPA, currently there are around 18,000 poultry farms in Pakistan with an annual turnover of Rs1.1 trillion which has decreased to Rs800 billion due to Covid-19.

Some stakeholders said that the recent move of the food ministry would not benefit farmers because the majority of them had not availed any loan facility.

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“Many farmers convert their life-long savings into poultry investments to secure their future,” said a stakeholder on condition of anonymity. “The proposal of food ministry can benefit some industrial groups who are dealing with poultry feed or have a complete supply chain since they are running industries and have availed the lending facilities.”

The official detailed that establishing a poultry farm is a one-time investment with a few running expenses which a farmer can manage by selling his stock.

It would be much better for farmers if the ministry could devise a policy, which might lower the prices of poultry feed either by direct subsidy or through the exemption of duties on different raw materials. 

Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2020.

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