The government’s ban on poultry export will not help bring down the rising price trend of the chicken, a food security expert said.
“The ban will not bring down chicken prices because even before the ban Saudi poultry manufacturers have mostly been marketing their chicken in local markets,” said Khaled Al-Ruwais, supervisor general of the King Abdullah Chair for Food Safety at the King Saud University. “They export mostly products such as wings and cut pieces, not the whole chicken.”
On the other hand, Al-Ruwais added that the flow of Saudi chicken to Gulf markets is hard to be stopped as individuals or companies in the Gulf are buying directly from Saudi markets in Ahsa, Al-Khafji or Dammam.
The food security expert also believed that the move by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is temporary and will not solve the issue.
He recommended the review of the strategies of the poultry manufacturing industry in the country and stressed the need for providing more support to small scale producers and encourage them to form commercial blocs.
He also blamed the owners of poultry manufacturing companies for their lack of strategy to counter the present crisis, in which chicken prices surged between 30 to 40 percent because of reasons that are mostly outside the Kingdom, but could have averted with better strategies.
He attributed the crisis partly to inability of the local manufacturers to take anticipate problems in advance and take steps to face them. In fact, the total output of chicken in 2010 fell to 450,000 tons which was about 100,000 tons less than the previous year, he said.
More than 60 percent of the local requirement was met through import, which had to pay a 5 percent customs duty.
He recommended cancelation of the customs duty, which will guarantee five percent reduction in the imported chicken price, and encouraging small-scale local manufacturers to form blocs for coordinated efforts to raise their efficiency.
He added that another reason for the rise in the cost of imported chicken was because of the rise in the transportation cost.
It was also reported that signs of a price surge in the market was visible about months ago as many farms in the Kingdom had been suffering a virus infection which killed in some farms half of their poultry population. It is also noted that the Ministry of Agriculture did not take urgent steps to check the disease before the situation worsened.
Al-Ruwais also wanted the government review the local poultry industry, which is getting governmental subsidy, in order to ensure quality strategy in the administration of farm projects. The government should also pay special attention to manufacturers with high production potential because increased production reduces cost.
He also stressed the need for creating a strategic reserve for the poultry products as well as the millet and soybeans, which are the major constituents in the chicken feed manufacture.
He also enumerated the major challenges that stand in the way of increasing chicken production in the country. They include lack of technical expertise and administrative expertise for the development of the industry, insufficient training facilities for national workers, lack of national workforce and the resulting dependence of expatriate workers, lack of workers with technical knowledge, lack of database of detailed information and advance planning, poor pay that discourage national workers, administrative negligence of implementing relevant policies and regulations and lack of veterinary service.