Bangladesh agriculture minister 'stumped' by soaring chicken prices

The high prices are negatively impacting poultry farmers and consumers, although traders remain insulated, says Razzaque

Published : 16 March 2023, 11:56 AM
Updated : 16 March 2023, 11:56 AM

Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque says he is aware of the reasons behind the high prices of broiler chicken meat, but a solution to the problem continues to elude him.

"I don't know how to solve this issue," he said during Thursday's opening ceremony of the 12th International Poultry Show.

The Bangladesh chapter of the World Poultry Science Association and the Bangladesh Poultry Industries' Central Council organised the three-day show.

The government is facing a challenge to provide nutritious and high-protein foods to the people, according to Razzaque.

"During the 2018 election, we promised to achieve self-sufficiency in food production. We were successful in achieving that for grains. Now, the challenge is to ensure safe and nutritious foods for the population," he said.

Bangladeshis eat more rice than many other countries where the grain is a staple, but their protein intake is comparatively low, according to the minister.

"We are facing a challenge to ensure that people consume enough milk, fish, meat, fruits and vegetables," he said.

Razzaque stressed the need to analyse the causes of the volatility in the market for broiler chicken, which is a crucial source of protein.

"Everything is interlinked in agriculture. To run a poultry or dairy farm, one needs crops as the poultry feed is made from corn and soybean. The price of these grains shot up in the international market.

"Poultry farm owners incurred financial losses and many of the farms were shut down, affecting production and supply. Thus, prices have gone up while people's purchase capacity has gone down."

The minister added that lower purchasing power prevented people from buying chicken even when the production was adequate.

"That's why farm owners and companies faced losses. Again, it is not true that tannery waste is used in poultry feed, but the spread of this information has impacted the sector negatively."

Though he could not identify a solution, Razzaque hoped that poultry prices would not spiral in the upcoming month of Ramadan.

"The demand drops during Ramadan, so we don't expect any further increase in prices. The problem is that [chicken] is already pricey. As the demand is high now, many farmers will rear new chicks.

"The poultry sector plays an important role for many people, and we must be vigilant so that the prices remain within the purchasing capacity of the people," the minister said.