Although there is substantial progress in creating employment, reducing poverty and malnutrition in Bangladesh over the last few decades. However, unemployment, poverty and malnutrition are still the problems in our country. Several socio-economic development activities are carried out in our country for the further improvement of the situation. The Poultry industry plays a significant role in achieving this socio-economic development and it is now considered as one of the vibrant sectors in creating both direct and indirect employment opportunities as well as improving food security, livelihood, nutrition, poverty alleviation and healthy lives in Bangladesh. Poultry farming is now treated as a profitable business for the farmers among the other sectors because the demand of poultry products is increasing day by day. According to Bangladesh Poultry Industries Central Committee (BPICC, 2020), the total investment in the poultry sector is about BDT 35,000 crore (USD 4.12 billion). The production of meat and eggs has increased almost 1.5-fold over the 5 years. Private sectors, government and other stakeholders are credited for this development. It is also important that the poultry industry helps us to achieve the SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) especially end poverty, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, good jobs and economic growth, responsible consumption, climate action etc. However, the recent Covid-19 has seriously affected the entire poultry value chain and created an unwanted mismatch between the demand and supply of poultry products. One estimation found that it resulted in about 30% drop in day-old chicks (DOC), eggs and meat production in our country. Therefore, the poultry farmers, private sectors, service providers, government and other stakeholders are adopting appropriate coping mechanisms to overcome the situation in terms of supply of inputs and sell of final products.
Subsistence to Commercial Poultry Production
In the 1980s, small-scale poultry rearing was initially started by the NGOs especially BRAC in Bangladesh and several private sectors came to this business in the early 1990s. Poultry farming gradually transformed from subsistence to commercial farming. The government, private sector and other stakeholders realized that poultry rearing can play significant roles in poverty alleviation, improving food and nutrition security, increasing income and livelihoods of farmers, especially for youth & women in this country. Although the commercial layer and broiler farms were commenced in this country in the 1990s, the major expansion occurred gradually after the 2000s because of the increased demand for eggs and meats. There are about 100 breeder farms & hatcheries, 8 grandparent stock farms, 70,000 commercial layer & broiler farms, over 200 feed mills and 500 animal health companies in this country (WPSA-BB, BAB, 2020). The breeder farms produce about 700 million day-old broilers and 4.7 million layers day-old chicken in 2019.
Poultry for Improving Livelihood
Depending on the farm size, poultry farming is the main source of family income for many, as well as it creates additional employment opportunities in the communities. It has created employment for over 6.0 million people, most of them being youth and women. It is the 2nd largest employment sector in Bangladesh (Dhaka Tribune, Published on 3 April 2020). Bill Gates, the founder of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation stated that “If you care about the poorest, you care about agriculture (poultry)”. Now we can see the reflection of this statement in the poultry industry because it has significantly contributed to increase income and improve the livelihood of thousands of thousands of peoples in our country. According to the World Bank, “Agriculture is up to four times more effective than other sectors in reducing poverty”. A functional value chain has been created in the poultry industry and linked multiple actors which include farmers, trader, processors, breeder, feed mill etc. in this chain. Most of the farm is in rural areas but they sell their poultry products in the urban market which eventually flow money from urban to rural areas. It is also helping to make the rural economy much stronger.
Poultry for Food Security, Better Health and Nutrition
BPICC reported that despite difficult challenges faced by the poultry industry, the overall production of poultry products (meat and eggs) have increased by about 10% on average over the last 5 years. The consumption of meat and eggs has been increasing due to rising incomes as well as due to higher availability and affordability. These are the cheapest sources of high-quality proteins available in our country compared to the more expensive sources like beef and fish, which also help to boost up the immune system. According to the DLS & BPICC report (2019), the country is producing approximately 46.9 million eggs and 3.1 million kg of poultry meat per day in 2019 compared to 30.1 million eggs and 2.2 million poultry meat per day in 2015. The average poultry meat consumption has significantly increased over the 5 years, which is about 7 kg per person per year but it is still lower than the requirement. However, both production and consumption are increasing day by day. The average egg consumption per person per year is now about 103 which is almost close to the targeted recommended number of 104. DLS & BPICC (2020) stated that about 40% of animal protein comes from poultry.
Dr A. B. M. Abdullah (Ex. Dean and Chairman Faculty of Medicine Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Dhaka, Bangladesh), stated in his report of Poultry For Better Health ( WPSA-BB) that protein is necessary for (a) strengthening and building of muscles and tissues (b) development of brain (c) important source of energy (d) production of important enzymes and hormones (e) forms antibodies that help to prevent infection, illness and disease. Chicken meat and eggs are the main product of the poultry industry and it denotes a major part of animal protein consumed by humans. Benefits of poultry meat are (1) Low in total fat and cholesterol, thus no risk of hypertension, stroke, heart disease (2) People of any age can consume it (3) Chicken soup can be made for ill people (4) Easily digestible, rich in vitamins and minerals. Moreover, Eggs are also rich in omega-3 fatty acid, which helps to maintain brain function, especially in pregnancy and infants. According to Dr A. B. M. Abdullah, “Egg for everybody and for all age”.
Considering the current Covid-19 situation, health experts have suggested that we should consume more poultry meat and eggs to enhance our immunity.
There is a fundamental relationship between poultry production and nutrition. Eggs and meat are natural, affordable high-quality protein that can be taken at any age including pregnancy. Poultry is playing an important role in improving livelihood as well as ensuring nutrition and healthy lives. We should take care of poultry to produce safe food for us. Not everyone is a farmer, yet we all must eat. Thus, we all depend on those who produce our food.
Be thankful to a farmer!!
Dr. Md. A. Saleque
Chief Technical Advisor
ACI Animal Health