Poultry producers working to prevent chicken shortage this Christmas
By Bibi Khatoon
Bounty Farm Limited, one of the major poultry producers in Guyana, has assured that the chicken shortage which has persisted over the past couple of months will not run into the upcoming Christmas season.
David Fernandes, Assistant Managing Director of Bounty Farm, told the News Room in an invited comment that the company has increased its production and other poultry producers have also done so significantly over the last few months.
Agriculture Minister Noel Holder, speaking at a forum of poultry producers, said that poultry accounted for 94% of the 44,800 metric tonnes of livestock produced last year.
This, he said, represented an increase of 37% from 2017.
The Minister said the industry is the fastest-growing agriculture subsector as a result of a growing population and rising income.
“40kg per person per year is consumed in Guyana,” he said.
Bounty Farm supplies 38% of the local demand.
Meanwhile, Fernandes explained that the industry is affected by increased demand and unstable weather conditions.
“We had a very long rainy season, normally we have two months of rain, we had four months of rain and even now, we’re still having some rain in September.
“With the extended rainy season, you have high humidity and heat as well and so it’s difficult to manage the birds properly in this environment,” Fernandes noted.
Fernandes said the increased demand is fueled by a large number of foreigners who are now in Guyana to work in the oil and gas industry and consuming mostly fast food.
“We have a lot of foreigners in the country and they head straight into those fast-food outlets that are popular around the world and so we have seen an increase in demand for supply to fast food chains especially,” Fernandes said.
“The challenge is for us to continue to produce more and more, not necessarily knowing what the required amounts would be,” he added.
He was at the time attending a two-day symposium being held by the Caribbean Poultry Association (CPA) at the Princess Ramada Hotel, East Bank Demerara to address regional and local demands.
The symposium is being held under the theme: “Improving Competitiveness of the Caribbean Poultry Industry,” is looking at the status of the Caribbean poultry, feeds, hatchery and legislation.
Fernandes said prior to the emergence of the oil and gas industry, local demand for poultry products had been stable with a spike during Christmas and other holiday periods.
This was also highlighted by Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), Nigel Cumberbatch during his presentation at Thursday’s symposium. He noted 428,000 broilers are produced per week and approximately 24.7 million chicks per annum.
The poultry sector in Guyana is solely private sector owned.
The Minister said even as the industry grows, it is faced with challenges including poor poultry management, cost of importing hatching eggs, access to feed quality among others.
As the demand rise, so does the cost for poultry and poultry products. However, the Minister said there needs to be a more scientific method of price determination.
“The need to improve flock health, control heat stress and the creation of a more scientific method of price determination of poultry products are some of the key deficiencies in the management of the sector,” he noted.
Also addressing the event was Deputy Secretary-General of the CARICOM Secretariat, Joseph Cox and others.