Poultry Farms Strike May Trigger Shortages in Bahrain

BAHRAIN - A shortage of fresh chicken is expected in Bahrain after 33 poultry farms went on strike yesterday (Tuesday, 4 March).
calendar icon 5 March 2014
clock icon 4 minute read

They claim chicks they are supplied by the Delmon Poultry Company are often sick, weak and vulnerable and die within days, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), sister publication of TradeArabia News Service.

Owners told a press conference at the Poultry Producers Co-operative Society, in Maqaba, yesterday that they were shutting down their operation.

The farms buy one-day-old chicks from the company, raise them and then sell them back when they are ready for consumption.

However, owners claimed as many as half of the 150,000 chicks distributed weekly by Delmon Poultry Company died.

"One of the biggest factors in lower poultry production was changes in the system (of distribution and dispatching) one-day-old chicks to the farms," said farmers spokesman Jameel Salman, owner of Bahrain's biggest poultry farm Al Safa.

"Instead of four batches per week of a total ranging between 45,000 and 50,000 chicks, it was changed to six batches weekly with the total ranging between 30,000 and 35,000 chicks.

"Delmon Poultry Company has three hatcheries and delivery intervals have an effect on the disinfection process of the hatchery and the change in the system has increased disease susceptibility up to 50 per cent.

"This allows viruses to transfer easily since the hatcheries don't get cleaned properly, so the supplied chicks are weak, sick and vulnerable - with the death rate in our farms ranging from 50 per cent to 90 per cent."

Mr Salman claimed it was cheaper for farmers to cease operations and go on strike than continue functioning in the current climate.

The farms now want a return to the old system and have submitted other demands related to hygiene and medication.

"The company's board, chaired by Yousif Al Saleh, is co-operative and has over the years listened to demands," said Mr Salman.

"They imported hatching eggs from Brazil, which are the highest and best quality in the market, besides importing bird hay and Grade A vitamins from Argentina rather than India.

"But we don't know why they are being stubborn now - despite seeing the supply of chickens to the market drop from 34,000 to 12,000.

"That drop is not normal and sometimes there is no supply of chicken at all in the market because the company can't meet demand."

Poultry Producers Co-operative Society president Hamza Al Madhoob said the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry was acting as a mediator in the dispute.

"The strike will continue," he said.

"We lose and so will the market, as consumers will not get fresh chicken.

"I know that our actions will also affect workers at the company, which is 98 per cent Bahrainised, but that's the only way to force the company to listen and nothing else."

However, minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi said its authority was limited because the farms had contracts with the Delmon Poultry Company.

"There has to be an agreement that ensures none of the parties end up losing and Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company, which owns 40 per cent, has to intervene," he said.

The only two farms not taking part in the strike are Napco and Awal. Delmon Poultry Company officials were unavailable for comment yesterday.

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