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Difficulty in marketing products of poultry sector leads to its bankruptcy in Syria’s rebel-held al-Bab

A poultry house in the city of al-Bab in rural Aleppo - 28 August 2020 (Enab Baladi/ Asem al-Melhem)

A poultry house in the city of al-Bab in rural Aleppo - 28 August 2020 (Enab Baladi/ Asem al-Melhem)

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Enab Baladi – Asem al-Mehem 

With a small wage from his work in the poultry farm, Abdullah al-Khader, a resident of the city of al-Bab, provides for his family of five members. However, after the owner of the poultry farm, Ahmed al-Jabali lost 11 thousand chickens, with the accumulation of an excessive debt (worth 30 thousand US dollars), al-Khader started again to look for another job.  

Many poultry owners in the city of al-Bab in the northern countryside of Aleppo shut down their poultry farms after the losses caused in the poultry products (in particular eggs and chicken).

“There is no demand for my products in the local markets, which coincided with the devaluation of the Syrian pound, and absence of border crossings that enable me to sell my products, so I had to empty my farm and sell the chickens, to avoid the accumulation of eggs,” Ahmed al-Jabali told Enab Baladi.

Al-Jabali was unable to provide fodder for his poultry farm, as he buys it in US dollars and sells his egg production in Syrian pounds (SYP).

The average production of al-Jabali’s poultry farm was 550 egg trays, and the tray contained 30 eggs, but after his losses, his poultry farm’s production reached 240 eggs.

Al-Jabali added that a tray of eggs costs him 1.25 USD, while he sells it for 0.40 USD.

The pound recorded an exchange rate of 2,120 against the US dollar for purchase and 2,160 for sale, according to the website of Syrian Pound Today (a Syrian Pound tracking website.)

No laws protecting poultry

Poultry is a primary key in the economy of al-Bab city, but no laws are protecting the poultry farmers; in addition to that, the officials from the local council or directorates of agriculture are not interested in the poultry sector. They do not monitor their profits and losses, as confirmed by Mustafa Abu al-Khair.

According to the owner of the poultry farm, Ahmed al-Jabali, the farmers’ demands are limited to the existence of an economic committee in the city, which should have a connection to the commercial crossings. The task of the committee is to monitor the market needs and the overflowing supply to act according to the principle of supply and demand.

Enab Balad contacted Mahmoud Aqil, the director of the animal resources department in the local council of al-Bab, to ask him about the existing laws that protect the poultry sector. Aqil pointed out that the poultry sector lacks support. 

Absence of oversight agency

The price of eggs and chickens is determined by the law of supply and demand and if the Bab al-Salama border crossing is closed or open. When the crossing is closed, the demand decreases, resulting in a surplus of production, and thus the price of eggs and chicken decreases, which leads to “devastating” losses for poultry, according to Abu al-Khair.

Abu al-Khair added that there is no specific individual responsible for the loss of the poultry sector in al-Bab, but rather due to a set of circumstances that the region is going through in addition to the complete absence of the agency responsible for supporting and monitoring poultries and their trade.    

Ahmed al-Jabali believes that the responsibility falls upon the local council, “which puts itself in charge,” and on the crossings and their managers, in controlling the import and export of products.

High costs are a significant reason

 Mahmoud Aqil, the director of the livestock department in the local council of al-Bab, told Enab Baladi, “The large losses are caused by the high costs of products and essential requirements for breeding livestock which are set in US dollars while selling in the Syrian currency, in addition to the absence of the directorate’s authority at the crossings, so it is not known what is imported and exported.”

Aqil added that the price of eggs is determined in a local “market” on Saturdays, and is affected by supply and demand. As for the price of chicken, it is set by one person without consulting or coming back to anyone.

“The poultry sector is large, and it needs a huge capital,” and within the available capabilities of the local council, there are no plans to help and save the sector from the bankruptcy, Aqil said.

The Bab al-Hawa crossing, on the border between Idlib and Turkey, prevented the import of eggs from Turkey in order to achieve fair competition in the local market and encourage poultry farmers and producers.

Meanwhile, chicken keepers in the countryside of Aleppo were waiting for an intervention from the crossings or bodies administrating the region while some search for other resources to compensate for their losses.

 

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