poultry industry in Sindh is resurrecting itself as it moves towards automating poultry farming. It has also achieved the desired feed consumption ratio which is essential to cut cost of chicken meat production.
Automation of environmental control houses (ECH) is helping in improving chicken meat production, and it is fast substituting the conventional open shed poultry farming. ECH helps achieve food consumption ratio (FCR), care of birds, control diseases and meet other safe breeding conditions. A single shed in ECH can keep 30,000 birds, requiring an investment in equipment, cost of land and infrastructure of around Rs20 million or so.
In Sindh, farmers have achieved the FCR of 1.6kg to 1.7kg through ECH. A higher FCR had increased the cost of meat production.
To modernise the poultry industry, Sindh Board of Investment (SBI)`s Sindh Enterprise Development Fund (SEDF) has planned an initiative to provide loans on subsidised interest rate through commercial banks. According to the project, poultry farmers will be advanced loans through commercial banks for which modalities have been finalised.
The SBI has approved financing for setting up of a farm of flocks of 120,000 birds in Dhabeji, says SEDFchief executive Mehboobul Haq. The client will pay mark-up of 2.5 per cent on principal amount while Karachi Interbank Offered Rate (KIBOR) which is around 9.5 per cent will be absorbed by SEDF.
According to Pakistan Poultry Association (PPA)`s Chairman, southern region, Ghulam Khaliq, ECH controls atmosphere and improves meat production with the required FCR.
`We have the required production of meat in each flock of around 30,000 birds in one shed of ECH`, he claims. The ECH, he says, not only controls atmosphere, but also spread of disease and unnecessary wastage of feed as each bird gets required dose of feed only.
`Farmers believe they have come a long way to a stage where it takes 36 days for a chick to be born instead of 54 days through ECH-based farming.
Mortality rate has significantly reduced to just two per cent from 25 per cent under ECH as well`, he adds.
However, poultry farmers based in Karachi and its outskirts complain the government needs to control increasing crime; their vehicles were hijacked and were returned only after hijackers had off-loaded birds or taken ransom. They are also in a dispute with local administration over fixation of cost of chicken meat; farmers claim prices has been unrealistically fixed without taking into account the production cost.
Khalig believes the government should realistically fix price of chicken meat and argues that it is poultry industry which is providing meat to consumers ataffordable prices when the price of mutton and beef is sky rocketing.
At one time around 70 per cent of the country`s poultry was located in Sindh, which is now reduced to 48 per cent. Sindh Director Sindh Poultry Vaccine Centre of provincial livestock department Nazeer Kalhoro attributes the decline to diseases, manual shed farming, etc. However, he says the industry is witnessing revival in the province.
Poultry department is establishing its own ECH shed in Korangi under aegis of Poultry Research Institute. Presently, Sindh`s poultry department is working on a project, titled, `surveillance and characterisation of circulating pathogen of poultry in Sindh` at a cost of Rs198 million. The project, under which laboratories will be set up, will analyse samples of different strains. Such laboratories will provide prevention support services to farmers.
The establishment of `Sindh Pathogen Bank` is also part of the project. Bactaeria and viruses that would be isolated during surveillance would be deposited in banks to gauge whether they are potentially diseaseinfecting or not. Thirty per cent cost of the project will mainly deal with bird flu strain.
Besides, Sindh`s poultry department`s hatcheries for promoting backyard poultry are working in 18 districts from where they provide birds to people interested in backyard poultry. Chicks are distributed among communities after charging them cost of their production. Backyard poultry produces local breed of hens and cocks mainly.