Many have appealed to the Government and its Ministries through the media to put an end to the loss of poultry farmers, due to the drop in chicken prices. The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), however, thinks otherwise. It does not conceive the situation to be as bad as it is being portrayed.
Hasnaa Al Rantisy – Palestine Economy Portal
Translated by: Tamara Barakat
Engineer Reem Fathi, Head of Poultry Production Department at the MOA, said that chicken prices did not drop to a disastrous number, as a kilo of chicken currently costs around 9 shekels. This price is neither very high nor very low. She explains that losses are incurred by outdoor farms when chicken prices drop below 8.5 shekels, while less losses are suffered by indoor poultry farms.
Poultry farmers appealed to the Government to help put an end to their losses caused by the recent drop in chicken prices to 9 shekels per kilo, whereas the kilo used to be sold for 14 shekels two months ago.
Tarek Abu Laban, General Manager of the Marketing Department in the MOA, affirmed that the price used for selling chicken is a bit higher than its prime cost, which guarantees a slight margin of profit for the poultry farmers and merchants.
He further says, “The prices are not exactly what the farmers and the Ministry of Agriculture desire, and they should be a bit higher. However, at the same time, we are not on the brink of a disaster as the media is reporting. The current prices are reasonable for both producer and consumer. Our bigger problem occurs when the price paid by the consumer greatly increases and becomes difficult to decrease.”
Engineer Fathi believes the reason behind the drop in chicken prices lies in the drop of demand on chicken during the festive season and the olive harvest season. Since the beginning of these seasons, the prices of chicken witnessed a drop. However, the increase in red meat prices drove many to poultry farming since chicken is considered an alternative to red meat.
Additionally, it is difficult to transfer birds due to the current security conditions, especially in Hebron. A third of the inhabitants in Hebron relies in its consumption of chicken on the farms located in the northern governorates. The current conditions have impeded the transfer and distribution of chicken, leading to the drop in the number of sold chickens.
Fathi highlighted another problem which is the decline in the restaurant industry that is considered an important source for chicken consumption. The decline of the restaurant industry in Ramallah, Hebron, and Nablus decreased the demand on chicken. Moreover, the current weather and the high costs of poultry farming at the moment have played a role in the drop on demand.
She also expressed her worry regarding the smuggling of chicken from Israeli settlements. During the current security conditions, such smuggling could be very active, which has also participated in the drop in demand on chicken.
Abu Laban said, “The actual production of chicken this week was around 730-740 thousand birds. Actual consumption amounted to 800 thousand birds. Consequently, according to these numbers, there is no problem in the demand nor in the supply of chicken.”
Government Fights Against Smuggling
Abu Laban commented on the call of farmers and media sources for an interference by the Government to control the situation and do justice to the farmers, saying, “The Government prohibits the import of chicken. This is a governmental interference to protect the farmers.”
He thinks that the possible thing to be done by the Government is to protect the Palestinian market from the chicken smuggled from settlements. The security conditions, however, hinder the work of the Palestinian Customs patrol that is making the best effort to fight against the issue of smuggled chicken.