Poultry producers cite drop in output and higher feed costs for price riseChicken meat now costs Rs 450 per kilo in the retail market compared to Rs 240 per kilo two months ago.
Last week, the department had written to the Nepal Feed Industries Association, Nepal Hatchery Industries Association and Nepal Poultry Federation asking them to explain why the price of chicken had suddenly shot up.
The popular meat now costs Rs450 per kilo in the retail market compared to Rs240 per kilo two months ago. During the same period, the price of chicks doubled from Rs40 per bird to Rs80 per bird.
“The prices of chicken and eggs have increased at source. The related associations were given until Tuesday to submit an explanation,” Pokhrel said.
But consumer rights activists are not convinced by the reasons given by poultry producers.
Madhav Timilsina, president of the Consumer Rights Investigation Forum, said the Nepal Hatchery Association killed more than 6 million chicks and halted production for 10 days in a bid to pressure the government to increase the prices of egg and chicken. “It is a strategy of the hatchery to hike prices,” he said.
Timilsina had filed a complaint with the department against the Nepal Hatchery Association for violating the Consumer Protection Act 2018 in mid-December.
As the government has not taken action against the traders, they have been encouraged to increase the prices in their own way, he said. “Due to economic influence and pressure from the state, the concerned government body is not able to take action,” he said.
Nokh Bahadur Bashyal, spokesperson for the Department of Commerce, said that the matter was under investigation and they were studying it. “It will take time to reach a conclusion as there are processes to be followed. We will take action only if we do not find an appropriate reason for the price rise,” he said.
Inspection officer Pokhrel said that the department had conducted a market inspection, but they could not take action against the retailers as prices had increased at source.
Sabin Shrestha, owner of Upakar Chicken Cold Store at Lalitpur, said that he was buying live chickens at Rs250 per bird till Friday, but the price jumped to Rs270 per bird on Saturday.
Guna Raj Bista, president of the Nepal Poultry Federation, said that poultry farms were losing money when they were selling chicken meat for Rs250 per kilo. As a result, poultry farmers stopped producing chickens, he said.
Farmers break even only when the price is between Rs350 and Rs400 per kilo. Bista added that they had been racking up losses continuously, and it was necessary to increase prices.
Chicken prices had hit a high of Rs400 per kilo in November 2014 due to shortages after the government culled thousands of live birds following a bird flu outbreak.
According to the Department of Commerce, Supply and Consumer Protection Management, the daily requirement of chicken in the Kathmandu Valley is 300,000 to 350,000 kilo.