Poultry producers flock against chicken importers

Cheap imports could undercut local producers, hurting the domestic industry as well as related industries and the workers they employ, said U Kyaw Htin, chair of the Mandalay Region Poultry and Egg Production and Trading Association.

“Other countries care about their local industries,” he said.

“We can’t rely only on trading for our country, we need manufacturing. Our country can’t manufacture cars or airplanes, but we can do poultry very well and improve it step-by-step.”

U Kyaw Htin added that other countries are often careful to protect their own agricultural industries, and that the poultry sector is particularly worthy of support as it is only beginning to build modern industrial farms.

One factory aiming to process 12,000 frozen chickens a day will be finished in 2015, and more are planned in Yangon and Mandalay, he said.

Larger-scale production will close the gap between prices on the farms, at K3000 a viss (1.6 kilogrammes or 3.6 pounds), and at the market, where prices are about K6000 a viss.

“If frozen farms come, the price will fall, as will the price of eggs,” he said.

Myanmar Livestock Federation deputy chair U Hla Hla Thein said foreign firms were entering Myanmar, claiming there is not enough meat or quality abattoirs to produce poultry, as well as pigs and cattle.

“But I don’t accept this point for chicken,” he said. “We don’t need the imports, we have enough chicken.”

Imported chicken will also be less fresh than locally produced chicken, he added.

The Myanmar Livestock Federation said domestic poultry farming has increased annually by about 5pc in recent years until 2013, where it grew 20pc. The federation predicted even larger growth this year.

Chicken feeds salesperson and Mandalay Region poultry association secretary U Nay Thurain said he met with three foreign firms who want to import chicken. While two of the companies are looking primarily to sell chicken to oil companies working in remote areas, he claimed the third would like to import 30 tonnes a month at the price of $200 a tonne, or about K320 a viss.

“This is a totally unreasonable price,” he said. “It is intended to destroy our market.”

Discussions downplayed concerns of foreign companies setting up factories within Myanmar, such as Thai firm Charoen Pokphand (CP), as it runs its own production facilities inside the country. Rather they took aim at imports of foreign-manufactured finished poultry products.

Businesspeople also pointed out that the poultry industry has trouble finding land, as authorities currently do not allow poultry farms on industrial land – even though exceptions are made for non-agriculture industries like petrol stations.

Population expansion is also leading to more houses being built, meaning residential areas are encroaching on poultry farms, often requiring them to relocate due to complaints.

The poultry industry hopes a draft law by the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation will help with the issues, said U Hla Hla Thein.

Mandalay Region consumes an estimated 2.5 million chicken, while about 12 million are eaten across the whole country in one month.

Source: Myanmar Times

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