The move by some traders to allow them import eggs from India has caused many eyebrows raised- for not totally untenable reasons. The move came in the form of applications by a number of traders to the ministry of commerce (MoC) seeking permission to import 160 million eggs from the neighbouring country. The MoC has reportedly forwarded the proposal of the traders to the ministry of fisheries and livestock to examine the rational of such request, especially in the context of price hike of eggs in recent times and shortage of supply.
Since the middle of August this year, price of farm eggs hit a record high of Tk160-180 a dozen in the local market. After a couple of months there was a slight decline in price, but the price is still high; egg per piece now sells at Tk9.0-10 in the retail level. According to reports quoting intending traders, import from India would be able to meet the prevailing supply deficit and help stabilise the local market. They added that price of egg price per piece would come down to Tk 6.5--7.0 at the retail market, if they are offered duty exemption. It may be noted that in the last month, too, there was another move from traders for permission to import 500 milion eggs from India. No decision has yet been taken by the government.
Given the price hike of eggs, it is indeed logical to try to remove supply constraint, but it is also logical to see how cost-effective it would be if import is allowed, given that it not only involves foreign currency, but also duty exemption. Over and above, the most critical aspect that deserves utmost concern is the impact it might have on the local poultry industry. In a recent hearing, local poultry farmers expressed deep concern over the import proposal. They warned that the move, if materialised, would be extremely harmful for the poultry industry. They are reportedly confident that the egg market would soon be able to ride out the current supply deficit. They attributed the surge in poultry meat and egg prices to rise in prices of poultry feed and closure of many farms. A FE report quoting data of the Department of Fisheries and Livestock says annual egg output of the country rose to 23.35 billion pieces in the last fiscal year (FY) 2021-22 against the set target of 22.66 billion pieces. But in the current year (fiscal), things do not seem to be positive enough, as of now, to reach the target set for the year at 23.15 billion eggs. However, it is rather premature to say so at this stage.
Poultry being a frontrunner of the farm sector of the country, it has ample success stories despite the many odds it faces-from procuring the right vaccin to high-priced feeds. The authorities, it is expected, will apply proper judgment while examining the many pros and cons of the issue. Above all, any decision in this regard must not be at the expense of the poultry industry.