Corporate farms are gradually swallowing small poultry farms as more than 50% of small businesses have packed up following failure to sustain pressure and compete with rapidly growing state-of-the-art poultry sheds over the last six years.
“Although the number of farms has decreased, the production of broiler birds has increased manifold,” said Dr Hasan Sarosh, former president of the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) and an expert on poultry industry.
He said earlier around 25,000 poultry farms were producing chicken, but it had now dropped to 8,000 to 10,000. However, average production has increased to 30,000 per shed.
The number of open-house poultry farms is declining sharply while the figure for environmentally controlled poultry sheds is increasing exponentially. Also, the farm owners who run open houses are transforming them into controlled sheds, he said.
Poultry Industry of Pakistan President Dr Aslam claims that the industry is expanding 10% annually and creating 50,000 new jobs, adding its annual turnover is around Rs700 billion and 1.5 million people are directly and indirectly associated with the sector.
Sarosh put the demand in Pakistan at around 2.5 million birds in a week and for the first time Rs20-30 million was needed to place the flock in controlled sheds. The amount includes the cost of land acquisition, construction expenses and cost of birds along with vaccines and feed.
However, Sarosh admitted that around 25% of the manpower engaged with the poultry sector had been laid off after the rapid shift from open-house farms to environmentally controlled sheds.
The largest transformation from open to controlled sheds is seen in Lahore, Faisalabad, Chakwal, Rawalpindi, Sahiwal, to some extent in Peshawar and Karachi on a limited scale.
“There is no cartel working in the poultry industry because it is impossible to form a cartel in the field of perishable products,” an industry player said, dismissing the perception and stressing that prices were fixed by market forces.
Aslam said chicken was priced at Rs190 per kg in the retail market during the month of Ramazan and is now available at Rs120 per kg.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2014.