A sharp contraction in Bolivia’s domestic market means that poultry meat production could be down by 3 percent this year compared with 2015, according to the head of the Poultry Farmers Association (ADA) for the department of Cochabamba, Fernando Quiroga.
Poultry farmers produced 115 million chickens in 2015, but changes in the domestic markets in La Paz, Oruro, Cochabamba and Chuquisaca look likely to cut output to less than 112 million this year, reports La Prensa. This is similar to production in 2014, which was 6.2 percent higher than in 2013.
“There are problems in the economy, there is less money and fewer purchases,” Quiroga said. “With government support, we need to identify the issues and put in place measures to prevent further reductions.”
According to Quiroga, the decrease in 2016 could be as much as 5 percent if the domestic market continues to contract.
Of Cochabamba’s total chicken production, 80 million birds go to the capital, La Paz, and 35 million are consumed locally.
Feed prices add to pressure on poultry farmers
As well as falling demand, chicken farmers are having to contend with rising feed prices – particularly for vital feedstuffs, wheat and sorghum - which are eating into already slim margins. Chicken prices, currently BOB13 (US$1.89) per kilo - have not moved upwards so some producers are now operating at a loss.
According to the Small and Medium Producers Association of Cochabamba (Aspymac), several small and medium-sized producers have been forced to leave the sector.
Prospects for an early improvement in the situation for Bolivia’s poultry farmers look unlikely. Winter is approaching and El Deber reports that producers are preparing their buildings and stocking up on liquid petroleum gas (LPG) to prevent birds dying of cold.
It is reported that average chicken consumption in Bolivia increased by 6.7 percent since 2010 to just over 34.7 kg per person in 2015.