When the coronavirus pandemic began ebbing a few months ago raising hopes for people to return to a normal life, the retail price of a dozen eggs had dropped below Tk 80. Now the price has shot up to Tk 120. Similarly, the price of broiler chicken has increased to Tk 180 per kg from Tk 100.
As chicken and egg, two of the main sources of protein, have become dearer, people find it hard to adjust their income with the high prices. Experts believe the sudden price hike of egg and chicken is
the ripple effect of the coronavirus pandemic. While many poultry farms ceased their business failing to bear the brunt of the pandemic, the existing ones are struggling with the increased price of chicks, poultry feed and vaccine. The wide gap between the demand and supply of eggs and chickens has caused the instability in the market, the traders said. A slump in demand forced them to sell their produce at a lower price which caused the price drop during the lockdowns, said farm owners. During the lockdowns, the poultry sector suffered a 50 per cent production drop, according to the Bangladesh Poultry Industries Central Council, or BPICC. The government account, on the other hand, shows an opposite picture. “Only 10 to 15% of the poultry farms that were shut due to the pandemic have resumed their productions. Almost 30 to 35% of farms are still closed. That is why we have a 35 to 40 per cent drop in production,” said BPICC President Moshiur Rahman. Now a fall in production amid rising demand pushed up the prices of chicken and egg, he said. As many as 6.0 million people are employed in the poultry sector in Bangladesh with 40 per cent women in them, according to the BPICC. A total of 65,000 farmers are working in the sector. Bangladesh has a demand of 40 million eggs per day and 20 million chicks per week, according to the BPICC showed. It had set a goal to produce 1.2 million tonnes of chicken and 5.5 million to 6 million tonnes of poultry feed per annum. A hike in the price of poultry feed pushed up expenditure. A bag of poultry feed now costs Tk 2,700, up from Tk 2,000. Chicken price would never drop as long as poultry feed remains expensive, Jamal said. A one-day old chick now costs Tk 66, up from about Tk 30, Moynal said. The poultry industry would not be able to go back to its previous state until the chicks and poultry feed price drops, he believes. The poultry sector may recover provided the prices of feed, chicks and medicine are reduced and farm owners who shut down their farms get easy loans, said the farmers.