Bangladesh poultry sector battles Indian egg imports

By Ankush Chibber

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Avian influenza

Bangladesh poultry sector battles Indian egg imports
The Bangladesh poultry industry is up in arms over a government decision to allow egg imports from India, even as the local industry is on the brink of collapse on the back of bird flu.

Last year, the commerce ministry allowed Dhaka-based Faria Enterprise Ltd to import 10m pieces of hatching eggs from India, after allowing the same firm to import the same number of day-old chicks in 2010 from India.

While the firm was first told to complete the import by June last year, the commerce ministry later extended the deadline to June 30 this year.

Another company, Rajdhani International, imported some 7.7m pieces of Indian eggs in the last one month, and has so far imported more than 20m pieces of the 100m pieces it was allowed to by the ministry in August last year.

Decision to allow Indian imports self-contradictory

Industry experts, who have slammed the ministry for allowing imports from a country not free from bird flu even as local farms are being shut for the same reason, are seeing this decision of the government as self-contradictory.

A spokesperson for the Bangladesh Poultry Industries Committee told FoodNavigator-Asia that the ministry’s decision is lopsided since Bangladesh cannot export poultry products because of its bird flu-affected status.

“But we are importing poultry products from another bird flu-affected country. What message does this send to our local poultry farmers? There must be more fairness in this issue,”​ he said.

The spokesperson further contested that it should have been the livestock ministry that should have dealt with this matter, and not the commerce ministry on its own, which is however the sole authority for imports.

Indian poultry looks to countries like Bangladesh

A local Indian poultry farmer, who declined to be identified in the press, said Bangladesh and other Asian and West African countries are the last resort for the local industry.

He remarked that he and his colleagues are now frantically looking for new markets for their poultry products, after the Middle Eastern countries began banning the import of Indian eggs due to the outbreak of bird flu there.

“Oman, which used to account for a significant percentage of Indian poultry exports, banned the import of eggs from India on March 27. More countries are expected to follow suit in the MENA region,”​ he said.

Reports of repeated resurgence of pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in India saw the Food and Agriculture Organisation to send a five-member specialist team to the country on April 18. India notified the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) of a bird flu outbreak on February 6, according to the OIE website.

Meanwhile, the Bangladesh poultry sector collapses

According to data from the Bangladesh Poultry Khamar Rokkha Jatiya Parishad (BPKRJP), nearly half of 115,000 poultry farms in Bangladesh have faced closure over the past one and a half years.

The association, which has 8000 members, said recently that the government was not doing enough to tackle avian influenza that shut 54,000 poultry farms over the past one and a half years.

The body complained that the government was offering inadequate compensation for the affected farms, and those still in operation have been affected by the supply shortfall of day-old chicks and increased production costs.

Related topics: Policy, South Asia

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