Farmers hit as feed prices jump but egg prices remain unchangedEgg producers claim they are being shortchanged by distributors.
Egg farmers are having a hard time as feed prices have nearly doubled in the last two years, but egg prices have not changed for the past five years, Nepal Egg Producers Association said on Tuesday.
Expenditure on chicken feed accounts for more than half of the egg production costs, the association said. “Farmers are seeing an increase in production costs which has eaten into their profits, but there is no sign of wholesale egg prices rising,” said Shiva Ram KC, president of the association. “Farmers could get chicken feed for Rs26 per kg two years ago, but now it costs Rs55,” he said at an interaction programme on Tuesday. According to him, Nepali egg farmers produce 2.8 million eggs daily.
“The cost of production for farmers is Rs10 per egg, but they get paid only Rs7 per egg,” said Balaram Satyal, a poultry entrepreneur. “Farmers who toil hard are not getting value for their products. How can farmers survive in such a situation?”
The retail price of an egg is Rs12. Satyal said poultry farmers were going through tough times as their income barely amounts to Rs30,000 to Rs40,000 annually. According to Satyal, egg producers are being shortchanged by distributors.
Distributors in Chitwan procure eggs from farmers and sell them to entrepreneurs in Kathmandu for Rs1,300 per carton. The dealer in Kathmandu sells the eggs to wholesalers for Rs1,700 per carton. Each carton contains 210 eggs in seven trays.
This means that the price of an egg doubles by the time it reaches the customer in Kathmandu. An egg which costs Rs6-7 apiece in Chitwan is sold for Rs12-14 in the retail market in Kathmandu.
“If this situation continues, one day we will be compelled to dump our products on the road,” Satyal said, adding that the government should fix the price of eggs that is fair to both farmers and consumers.
Pahal Deuba, the proprietor of Ghoda Ghodi Poultry in Kailali, said unhealthy competition in the poultry sector had also affected prices. “Even if egg prices go up, farmers will not get the increased rate,” he said. Large quantities of eggs and chickens are smuggled into Nepal through the border points, he added.
Poultry entrepreneurs claimed that middlemen were involved in the sector and they influenced prices.
Ganesh Bahadur Kunwar, president of the All Nepal Poultry Farmers Association, said the number of small farmers who rear 1,000 to 20,000 chickens had been declining for the last few years. Commercial poultry farms are proliferating, and they have pushed out small players, he said.
According to entrepreneurs, the feed industry has been jacking up the price of chicken feed citing increased maize prices. “Although the government has announced that the country will be made self-reliant in poultry, imports have been increasing,” said Kunwar.
Entrepreneurs said that proper distribution channels should be set up so that farmers and customers are not cheated.