ANALYSIS - Reports on the dire situation for food and farming in Venezuela just keep on coming, writes Nuria Martínez Herráez, Editor of ThePoultrySite's Spanish sister site, ElSitioAvícola.
Recently, the Venezuelan Food Industry Chamber reported that food production had fallen by 21.8 per cent in April alone. There is a shortage of staple foods and their prices are constantly increasing.
The poultry sector has greatly suffered from the consequences of this situation. Last year, Venezuelan poultry industry sources unofficially reported that there was a drop in poultry production of approximately 45 per cent during the latter months of 2015.
These sources indicated that the industry is going through a critical time, as a result of inadequate government policies. They were unable to provide an accurate forecast for 2016, however, they correctly predicted that the situation would not improve.
In January, it was reported that 25 per cent of the Venezuelan poultry farms were on the verge of closing down. Simon Leal, president of industry body PYMES Avícolas, explained then that the sector did not have the financial capacity to produce on a large scale and to sell below cost price.
In February, the former governor of Zulia state, Pablo Pérez, bemoaned the serious crisis affecting egg producers in the state. At that time, the number of laying hens on state farms had shrunk from 600,000 to 300,000 hens.
In the following months, the trickle of bad news for the Venezuelan poultry industry continued its flow from bad to worse.
In April, it was reported that poultry farmers were almost being ruined by lack of feed for their birds. Small producers in particular were disappearing, unable to bear the brunt of increased costs.
In May, Geomar Ávila, director of the chicken producing company Proave, indicated that this company and Avipollo enter into "technical closure" because the costs of production and operation cannot be covered by the sale of one kilo of chicken at 65 bolívars.
Industry sources indicated that in Tachira state, Venezuela's third largest producer of chickens and eggs, state production has fallen 70 per cent.
In the 143 farms for both products in the state, the aim was to produce about 1,300,000 eggs daily, and 4 million kilos of chicken every six weeks. At present, they only produce 160,000 eggs per day and 700,000 kilos of chicken every eight weeks.
More and more farms are going bankrupt or are close to halting production under these conditions, where shortages of food and medicine for birds have become commonplace.
To this already difficult scenario is added the lack of foreign exchange to import raw materials and deteriorating security in the country.
The information coming from Venezuela suggests that the situation will not be reversed any time soon and, unfortunately, the poultry sector is growing weaker.