Middlemen are jacking up chicken and egg prices amidst a poultry shortageThe price of chicken meat has risen to Rs 430 per kg compared to Rs 350 per kg last week.
Middlemen and suppliers are taking advantage of a fall in production of chicken and eggs to jack up prices in the Valley amidst a nationwide lockdown.
The price of chicken meat jumped to Rs430 per kg compared to Rs350 per kg last week. Similarly, a crate of eggs now costs Rs400, an increase of Rs50-60.
Janak Poudel, president of Poultry Producers Association said that the farm rate of a chicken is Rs260 per kg and consumers should not be paying more than Rs370 per kilo for the meat.
“Suppliers and middlemen have increased the prices unnecessarily on the pretext of shortage,” he said, adding, “The market price is being fixed by traders for their benefit rather than farmers.” He identified the Nepal Poultry Market Management Association as the main player in price manipulation.
“With prices fluctuating time and again to new highs, why isn’t the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development and Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection taking any action?” he asked. “The government never seems to care about farmers while the poultry mafia who have the financial clout to sway officials get their demands met,” he said.
According to poultry entrepreneurs, most of the poultry farms across the country are empty. Due to the lockdown, poultry farmers saw their business decline. To make matters worse, companies that used to provide feed and chicks to the farmers on credit are now demanding cash.
Junga Bahadur GC, president of Nepal Poultry Market Management Association said that entrepreneurs did not keep new chicks during the lockdown, resulting in lower production. This shortage in production was amplified by the spike in demand after lockdown measures were eased.
Bishnu Khadka, coordinator of the National Poultry Entrepreneur Struggle Committee said that the shortage will continue till the end of July. As poultry entrepreneurs have started increasing production, prices will go down when it arrives in the market, he said.
“Poultry entrepreneurs suffered huge losses during the lockdown as markets were closed and consumption fell off a cliff,” said Khadka.
Khadka said that there are around 500,000 small poultry entrepreneurs across the country and more than 25 percent of them have quit the business due to the lack of sales during the lockdown. He blamed the government for not providing relief packages to small poultry entrepreneurs during this difficult period.