LAHORE - The Pakistan Poultry Association North Zone delegation met Punjab Food Minister Bilal Yasin here on Tuesday and briefed him about the fluctuation in poultry prices.

The meeting was attended by Livestock Secretary Naseem Sadiq and Industries Secretary Dr Mujtaba Paracha, while PPA delegation included PPA (NZ) Chairman Dr Abdul Karim, former chairmen Rai Mansab Kharl, Raza Mehmood Khursand and PPA Secretary Major (retired) Javed Bukhari.

The PPA delegation briefed the minister about fluctuation in poultry prices, saying it is due to demand-supply mechanism. Dr Karim said that prices of poultry products had remained very low for a long time, causing losses to farmers and resulting into closure of almost 45 percent poultry farms in the country. Presently, demand is high while supply is limited. However, the situation will improve as a huge supply of chicken is in the pipeline and the prices of it will start reducing within a few days, he added.

As it is a perishable product and there’s not enough storage facility available, it has to be sold immediately, irrespective of what price the farmer gets, he added. He said when prices of poultry products are raised, the government and consumers often blame farmers for the hike in prices. This is not true. The fact of the matter is that for most part of the year, chicken prices are less than the cost of production. It is only for a few months that a farmer gets his premium, which gives him compensation for his previous losses, he added.

In view of chicken production, the chairman stated that it stands at almost 1,000 million birds per year, which means about three million a day. This, however, depends upon the weather and power conditions. Controlled sheds have an evaporative cooling system that does not function from July till September. In these months, the top-most priority for farmers is to keep the birds alive.

He explained that the poultry’s cost of production varies, just like any other agriculture produce. Furthermore, various means of transportation are used to take the poultry from farms to the retail market, which also adds to the production cost, along with workers’ salaries.

Above all, the outbreak of any kind of disease is perhaps the biggest challenge to farmers. It is owing to several factors, there is a lot of fluctuation in prices, but the average prices of chicken, meat and eggs still remain affordable for the people. At times, their prices are less than vegetables and pulses.