Poultry farmers picket the office of the Department of CommercePoultry raisers demand action against hatcheries and feed factories for hiking prices.
The National Poultry Entrepreneur Struggle Committee, which organised the protest, said that chicks became dearer by Rs30 per bird over a week. Between January 24 and February 1, the price of chicks jumped from Rs40 to Rs70 per bird.
Bishnu Khadka, coordinator of the struggle committee, said, “It does not cost more than Rs35 to produce a chick, but selling it for Rs70 and trying to increase the price clearly shows that there is collusion between the department and the hatcheries and feed factories.”
Khadka, who is also a poultry farmer, produced a bill of sale showing that he bought chicks from GJ Poultry Breeding and Hatchery, Jagati, Bhaktapur for Rs70 per bird on February 8.
Poultry farmers in Chitwan, Pokhara and Dang are compelled to buy chicks at Rs70-90 per bird, and they have bills of sale to prove it, he said.
Khadka submitted a petition stating their demands to Netra Prasad Subedi, director general of the department on Tuesday. The Commerce Department threatened to take action against traders for raising the price of chicken, but it did nothing when hatcheries jacked up prices, he said after handing over the appeal.
There are more than 500,000 small poultry entrepreneurs in the country, and they have to spend more than Rs420 million monthly on buying chicks due to the higher prices, he said. “Why doesn't the department have any response regarding this issue?”
Subedi refuted charges of collusion between the department and hatcheries and feed factories. “I am not a director general who favours industrialists and takes benefits from them.”
He said he needed to see bills of sale to find out how much poultry farmers were paying for chicks. “Show me a bill, and I am ready to write a letter to them today,” he said. Subedi said the Department of Commerce was coordinating with the Department of Livestock Services, and that the results of the inspection conducted by the two should match.
Poultry farmers want the department to take action against the hatcheries for overcharging, and make them reduce the price of chicks as soon as possible, said Khadka.
Subedi said the department needed to hold discussions with the people concerned, and it would take time to control prices. Commenting on the petition submitted by the poultry entrepreneurs, Subedi said it contained much revolutionary rhetoric and dealt less with the problems and solutions.
A team will be formed and it will work to find a solution to the problem, and the department will conduct discussion with different concerned associations separately and jointly, said Subedi. He added that the department had been moving ahead to fix the definition of chicken meat and egg prices, and on what basis prices should be fixed. It takes time to prepare the standard, he said.
“The department will take strict action against the hatcheries if they are found to have increased the price of chicks without justification,” he said. After listening to the entrepreneurs, Subedi said that he would be targeting the hatcheries for unnecessarily hiking the price.
Recently, the Nepal Hatchery Association killed more than 6 million chicks and halted production for 10 days in the name of ‘chicks holiday’ in a bid to pressure the government to increase the prices of eggs and chicken.
The Nepal Hatchery Association has been saying that the price of chicks has been increased due to demand and supply reasons as production of chicks had dropped amid high demand.
Surya Narayan Shrestha, 44, a poultry farmer from Chunikhel, said that he was selling live chicken at Rs190-195 per bird.