In praise of egg

Neil Ray | Published: October 14, 2018 21:07:58 | Updated: October 27, 2018 21:12:36

Why does egg refer, in general, to no other but hen's only? Duck, goose and swan also lay eggs but invariably of all varieties of fowls, the hen takes the crown. Duck takes the runner-up trophy. Today quail is also commercially raised for meat and eggs but the moment egg is mentioned, no one takes it as this small bird's unless it is specifically mentioned.

This was, however, not like this axiomatic in the past when a particular community could not think of a poultry farm in the vicinity of its homesteads. Members of this community were used to raise a few ducks for eggs and within their circle, egg meant duck eggs. But time has changed and today egg refers unfailingly to poultry egg-not even its local variety laid by hens of the traditional stock.

When the decision was taken in 1996 to mark the 2nd Friday of October as the World Egg Day, the International Egg Commission did not even have the slightest doubt that it had to precede egg with hen. As if egg is a monopoly of hen! Even snakes lay eggs. So do fishes. Tortoises are no pushover in this regard too. And the number of eggs laid by fish is uncountable. Some of the world's most favourite and highly expensive foods such as caviar are made from fish eggs.

Yet egg means hen egg. True, all eggs are a concentration of proteins, vitamins, low calories, iron and other minerals. Hen eggs enjoy some advantages over most other eggs because of their size. This is despite the fact that goose eggs are much larger. Where hens beat all others is their habit of laying eggs every day non-stop for a long period. Only ducks come closer to them in this habit. Even though fish lay an uncountable number of eggs once at a time in a year, those cannot be handy and an everyday affair like hen eggs which can be produced commercially to feed the population of this planet.

This is, however, not the only clinching point for the poultry eggs. Had modern poultry not been invented for separately producing chicken meat and egg, the local species could not meet even a fraction of the requirement of these two items. The development of the poultry industry has ensured that almost everyone get an egg a day in order to meet the protein need. Other varieties of meat are very expensive and not all in Bangladesh society can afford those. So, eggs and poultry chicken have become the only source of their protein supply.

However, not all is well on the poultry front. Bird flu attacks laid waste of many poultry farms developed by many young entrepreneurs all across the country. Many of those enterprising young people went broke with the epidemic sweeping their farms. Some of them organised their farms with bank loans and when the fowls had to be culled, they were left financially ruined. Many of those could not rearrange poultry farms and at a point eggs became dear in the market. Then gradually the sector started getting back to its feet. But the industry is far from attaining stability.

The uncertainty and market volatility of the poultry industry need to be addressed by paying attention to the various problems facing it. Particularly, chicken feed, production of chicks and availability of medicine at a competitive price play a crucial role in maintaining the industry's stability. That egg price registered a sudden price hike a week before the World Egg Day can be considered an anti-climax to the theme of popularising egg on the occasion among people the world over.   

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