Annual turnover by the commercial poultry sector in Nepal is NPR33.72 billion (US$314 million), according to a new survey by the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics.

This is equivalent to 1.5 percent of national GDP, reports The Himalayan Times, and the sector employs 55,871 people, 56 percent of them men.

Total costs of production – feed, veterinary costs, chicks and staff wages - are estimated at almost NPR27 billion.

The country is making progress in reaching self-sufficiency in poultry products, the report says.

Nepal poultry industry’s recent expansion

Between the period 2004 and 2013, the survey reveals that the poultry sector expanded significantly, with almost 20,000 of the 21,956 currently operating farms set up during this period. Three-quarters of the farms generate a profit and 80 percent of the owners intend to expand.

As well as low prices for their products, farm owners gave high interest rates on loans, poor facilities at markets, lack of training and difficulties in accessing quality feeds as reasons that were holding back further expansion in the sector. They also expressed concerns about the absence of a compensation scheme in case of avian flu outbreaks and problems accessing loans for new houses, feed and chicks.

National production of chicken meat annually amounted to 114,580 metric tons (mt), and egg output was 1.2 billion, according to the survey.

Of the almost 61 million birds on commercial farms, 87 percent were broilers for meat, and 11 percent were egg-layers. Overall hatchability rate is 74.2 percent, and mortality rates are 12.8 and 9.2 percent for broilers and layers, respectively.

In its most recent estimate (for 2013), the statistics section of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, FAOstat, gives Nepal’s chicken meat production as 42,811mt, and egg output at 43,710mt.