UNC MP blames ‘government incompetence’ for chicken price hike

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


Chickens feed at a Carlsen Field farm. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Couva North MP Ravi Ratiram is accusing the government of failing to support the local poultry industry and addressing issues which have led to a shortfall in the supply of chicken

In a statement from his office on Tuesday, he recalled warning of an increase in the price of chicken for the Christmas season.

“The MP highlighted several reasons for the increase, as well as the inability by the Government to put measures in place that would address those factors contributing to the rising cost of poultry.

“The MP also called on the minister to adopt a structured, needs-based approach towards poultry farming in TT.”

However, Ratiram alleged Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat had responded by saying there was no shortage, and it was not the Government but private sector which set the poultry price.

“However, checks with various pluck shops show that since last month, they have been issued with purchasing quotas. This can only be attributed to a shortfall in the supply of poultry.”

He alleged a contraction in supply and blamed it on the Government’s alleged general lack of concern for expanding production in the poultry sector.

“This is because there is no corresponding investment into the production line, creating an industry where only a few very large poultry integrators can survive.

“It is a fact that poultry farming is heavily capital intensive in nature, and the incentive structure currently in place is not working. For instance, while a $50,000 rebate is offered for the construction of poultry farms, the processing of this rebate takes anywhere between one-and-a-half to two years.”

Ratiram also alleged the government has failed chicken farmers through a lack of development of the grain sector and alternative feedstock, plus the related issue of a lack of availability of foreign exchange.

“This complete disregard by the Government towards our poultry farmers has not only created a dependency on feed imports, but has placed them at the mercy of open market prices.”

Ratiram alleged that the Government was clueless and lacked a development strategy for chicken farming.

“The MP for Couva North therefore calls on the Government to stop making excuses for its incompetence. The Rowley-led PNM has failed our poultry farmers and our suffering citizens who are paying the ultimate price for their mismanagement and cluelessness. Our citizens deserve better.”