Poultry sector operators fear a significant fall in the production of eggs and broiler meat besides human losses in the event of a bird flu outbreak as the necessary actions in this connection are still limited to paper works.
Sources in the sector said at present the farmers of the country are producing 150 to 160 million pieces of broilers annually though the demand of the item is between 400 and 500 million pieces.
The farmers involved in this sector produce 6.0 billion eggs annually though the number is not enough to meet the country's needs, poultry farmers said.
Secretary General of the Bangladesh Poultry Industries Association (BPIA) Syed Abu Siddique said during 1992, the production of the broiler declined around 40 per cent due to some calamities.
He said if bird flu breaks out this time, the farmers would face severe losses of eggs and broiler meat.
On the other hand, the government in a recent meeting, decided to undertake a Tk 900 million project for protection against bird flu, sources in the ministry concerned said.
But it is still confined to planning stage even though the danger of bird flu looms all over South and South East Asian countries on the arrival of the migratory birds at the outset of winter season.
Experts said the protection against bird flu spread by migratory birds is quite difficult though the normal flu can be protected using different types of vaccines and through creating awareness among the farmers and the stakeholders concerned.
Siddique said the country has the capacity to grow 1.0 billion pieces of broilers annually if the government patronises this sector and helps to unearth the new potentials.
The annual turnover from this industry in Bangladesh is between Tk 4.0 and Tk 5.0 billion while the total investment is between Tk 40 and 50 billion, he said, adding that 1.5 million farmers are directly and 3.5 million more are indirectly involved in this sector.
At present, 75,000 to 80,000 layers and broiler farms are in operation throughout the country though the numbers of such farms are more than 111,000 in the country, he said.
Meanwhile, in the international markets, broiler production in 2005 is forecast to rise by as much as 2.1 million tonnes or almost 4.0 per cent to a record high of 57.34 million tonnes, said a survey report of the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in its January 2005 issue of Poultry International journal.
The global broiler poultry meat production in 2004 was 55.23 million tonnes while in 2003 it was 54.25 million tones, according to the report.
Regarding trade, the report forecast that in 2005, broiler exports would rise by more than 7.0 per cent to a record near 6.3 million tonnes.
It said the Asian markets would determine long-term growth in broiler meat production and consumption.
In 2003 and 2004, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks disrupted production and exports in Asia, the Netherlands, Canada and the USA, the report said.