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Govt OKs imported chicken to cope with shortage

As Guyanese continue to pay more for scarce chicken because of a shortage of hatching eggs, government on Monday announced that 18 import licenses have been granted to increase that meat supply.

The licenses would be valid until January 2014 to bridge the supply gap indentified by the Guyana Poultry Producers Association.

“After careful consultations with the poultry association and the major stakeholders involved in the chicken industry, especially representatives of the farming community, we decided to issue permits for the importation of chicken to almost every person who applied,” the Government Information Agency (GINA) quoted Commerce Minister, Irfan Ali as saying.

He was optimistic that within weeks the situation could correct itself with the demand meeting the supply.
“We are encouraging the large poultry producers, and small farmers, to step up production so we can control the market for the end of the year. Indeed our consumption of chicken has increased tremendously; we need to ensure production continues to increase to meet that level,” said Ali.

The decision to grant the licenses followed the commencement of monitoring of the escalating poultry prices from last month.

The Guyana Poultry Producers Association and the Guyana Livestock Development Authority have concluded that the shortage and spiraling prices for chicken were due to a shortage of hatching eggs. “Both agencies confirmed that the problem was with a shipment of hatching eggs,” Mr. Derrick Cummings, who spoke on behalf of the Ministry, explained.

The permits for the importation of chicken were granted at 100% duty and were given to traditional importers whose applications were pending. Those granted permission will be restricted to one or two containers, to be imported from Suriname and the United States.

Earlier this month, Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy said with the granting of licenses for the importation of chicken, the issue of shortage would be greatly eliminated and once chicken prices are stabilized, those licenses would not be renewed.

According to Dr Ramsammy, the government will be taking action now to ensure that consumers do not have issues with high prices during the Christmas season. “We are working to ensure that there isn’t a shortage or significant increase in prices during that time,” he stated.