Egypt’s population reached 90 million and the agricultural sector contributes with 15% of national income, while the local poultry industry represents 10% of agricultural production, vice chairman of the Poultry Producers Union Mohamed El-Shafei said during his speech before the Expert Guide Conference.
The centralisation of the poultry industry in the Nile Delta is one of the most prominent challenges facing this industry because the delta does not have a desert which prevented the expansion of the industry. Poultry industry must be moved to avoid the outbreak of epidemics and contamination of agricultural land, he added.
Individual consumption is estimated at about 11kg of chicken meat, 15 eggs, 13kg of red meat, and 15kg of fish annually, the union’s representative said.
“Egypt loses 250m of 1.25bn chicks annually, 11% of our production. If we can reduce the amount of dead chicks, we will be able to achieve economic self-sufficiency and export our poultry products,” he said. “We cannot exclude poultry production in light of the increasing need of protein. Furthermore it has competitive advantages over red meat since it consumes less water and provides healthier meat with less fat.”
The productivity of poultry is higher than red meat since Egypt produces 12 tonnes of poultry products annually. El-Shafei believes the spread of disease and the absence of medical insurance against epidemics are the most prominent challenges facing the sector.
The instability of the US dollar to Egyptian pound exchange rate and the lack of foreign reserve holdings also affect the poultry sector in light of importing maize and soya used in the chicken feed. Egypt has suitable weather for the poultry industry and inexpensive, well-trained labour.
He criticised importing chicken thighs and other parts of chicken and selling them to citizens at low prices because they are treated as waste abroad due to their lack of protein. Chicken thighs contain only 30% of protein and the remaining is bones.
The Poultry Industry Support Fund financed the supply of 2,000 tonnes of frozen thighs and 2,000 frozen chickens to the Ministry of Supply, worth about EGP 28m. El-Shafei criticised such a move because the fund’s role is to support the manufacturers and not to finance the government’s supply.
The government gets 1% of any import bill of any product or component related to the poultry industry. El-Shafei urged the use of information technology in production systems to reduce costs as well as the establishment of poultry projects in desert areas. He also called for signing cooperation protocols with vaccine manufacturers to ensure quality.
El-Shafei also called to encourage the cultivation of maize, stressing the need to increase the productivity per acre to reduce the maize imports. “It is not logical to import maize worth $1.7bn annually,” El-Shafei said.
El-Shafei urged the government to establish an authority to control epidemics and to improve the Egyptian poultry to increase its productivity.