Govt. is taking bread out of the chicken farmers’ mouths
It is with shock that I read in the newspapers that government has granted 12 licences for the importation of chicken.
What is even more alarming is that there were no notices, no indications whatsoever that government had been contemplating this act. It would appear at first glance a knee-jerk reaction to what has been reported as a chicken shortage in the country.
I am a chicken farmer, although a small one at that. I have invested most of my little savings to build my backyard pen. It would be a source of income for this old age of mine. It is no secret that the little pension is barely enough to pay the utilities.
Over the past year or so there have been major problems with sourcing of baby chicks, the price of feed and high mortality.
The previous Ministry of Agriculture had held meetings with chicken farmers to find solutions to the problems besieging this sector. The chicken egg importers were accused at one time of deliberately bringing limited eggs so as to drive prices upwards.
We as farmers have to depend on these importers for the baby chicks. We have been limited in recent times to the number of chicks that we order.
Editor, the small chicken farmers contributed a significant percentage of chickens to the local market. That is a fact. Many of them live from sale to sale because of the price fluctuations and uncertainties that beset this business.
Farmers have also been suffering seriously from high mortality and poor growth in recent times. Imagine a bag of feed for $5,600 and you have to rear the birds for six weeks, and at the end of that the chickens are three pounds each. Any wonder why the prices are high?
Additionally, Editor, many small farmers are already deep in debt, and have pulled out. It just does not make sense.
Farmers have their own beliefs for the high mortality and poor growth. It is believed that chickens are not properly vaccinated and there might even be issues of a poor quality feed.
There was much hullaballoo about the formation of the Guyana Livestock Development Authority last year. I don’t hear from them. We don’t even have inspectors paying visits to us.
Today, I read a letter in the Stabroek News from Mr. David De Groot of Bounty Farms which is the country’s biggest producers of chicken. He wants to know how the 12 importers were selected.
It is alarming that 12 persons could be selected without the biggest producer being even told that government wants to import. There were just no notices in the papers or announcements from the government. The Ministry of Agriculture has remained quiet throughout all time.
There is no word from the Livestock Authority.
Editor, my family is asking our government to tell us how we can continue to invest when we have no protection.
Which leads to my closing point: Was the entire granting of the licences to 12 importers done to benefit a few persons?
Mr. Luncheon says that government is seeing a shortage and responded as a result to grant the licences and that there is an increase of demand in the hinterlands mining areas.
Maybe we can also use this opportunity to allow our farmers to benefit.
As Mr. De Groot says, it may not be too late now to help our farmers and even allow some of them to collaborate and import, if there is a shortage.