Chicken shortage to ease by mid-September
– poultry body assures
By Leonard Gildarie
The current shortage of chicken in the country which has driven prices up is expected to “normalise’ by mid-September, with suppliers ramping up production. The shortage was fueled by producers reducing output and experimenting with shipping eggs – which compounded the situation – instead of using the traditional air freight.
A number of Muslims currently fasting for the month of Ramadan yesterday expressed worry over the shortage, especially with beef prices seeing a spike to $350 per pound.
At the end of July, chicken prices had risen to $350 per pound, still lower than the $405 that was being paid during the same period last year.
On average, Guyanese consume around 900,000 pounds of chicken weekly and this rises to over 1.2M pounds during holiday periods.
Yesterday, a number of senior officials of the Guyana Poultry Producers Association met with senior officials of the Agriculture Ministry, including Minister Robert Persaud, to find solutions.
Guyana had been experiencing a chicken glut, until recently, with production reduced by farms to stem possible losses, it was disclosed.
Bounty Farms’ Assistant Managing Director, David Fernandes, assured that supplies will in all likelihood be normalised by mid-September.
A number of farms are currently upgrading and expanding with new equipment and this should contribute to higher output, Minister Persaud asserted, during the meeting at his Bourda office.
While there are no immediate shortages in Berbice and Essequibo, for the long term, attention is also being paid to those two counties.
The good news is that Guyana has the capacity as is evidenced by the fact that no decision was taken to import chicken for the past three years.
Already, a significant quantity of eggs for broiler chicks are in the country and this should cater for the coming months, the Minister stated.
Also present at yesterday’s meeting were Andrew King of Toucan Industries and General Manager of the New Guyana Marketing Corporation, Nizam Hassan.
According to Minister Persaud, the issue is one that concerns affordability, not cheap chicken, as farmers are in it to make a living. Adequate supplies, he stressed, are also crucial to the market.
It was also emphasised that the Ministry will be monitoring the situation to ensure that things are back to normal as soon as possible.
While touching on chicken exports to the region, Persaud disclosed that he is to visit neighbouring Suriname shortly to follow up on plans to target that market more vigorously.
A similar push is being made to Trinidad and Tobago.
There is no question that local farmers have the capacity to produce more, the government official insisted.
Meanwhile, the recent Caribbean Airlines crash at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport may in some way disrupt plans by the airline to introduce more freight space for Guyana’s agricultural produce.
The Minister had written the airline complaining about the lack of space for this purpose. Caribbean Airlines had promised to facilitate same at the end of July but then the crash occurred.
According to Persaud, the situation is being monitored as lack of adequate freight space has been affecting farmers who are intent on exporting. It was pointed out that the number of flights to and from Guyana is relatively limited.