The Minister of Agriculture faced the monopoly of poultry farmers in importing chilled chicken.
Recently, the “breasts” of chicken were lost from their shops. The reason was not the shortage of that commodity, as much as the problem was in the “pricing” set by the Ministries of Agriculture, Economy and Trade, and which the owners of poultry farms and breeders found unfair to their right. They did not “swallow” the price list that differed completely from the one they prepared and included the cost they pay … and the subsidized price difference through the Bank of Lebanon. And since the “field accounts did not match the al-Baydar accounts”, they also proceeded to follow “rationing” in the distribution of chicken and egg derivatives, until a decision is taken to guarantee them the sale at reasonable prices. This came in the “glory” of the red meat crisis, its high prices, and the citizens’ rush for white meat to fill the shortage in their food.
Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture intensified its meetings with the unions concerned with the poultry sector to reach a solution to avoid the loss of poultry products from the markets (eggs and white meat), especially after the egg crisis two weeks ago when breeders and distributors stopped supplying the market with that commodity and monopolizing it until the ministry retracted the price. Which, at the time, was set at 12,500 liras.
3 meetings that brought together agriculture and economics with farmers, interspersed with many complaints about the interruption of eggs and chicken breasts and their sale on the black market. The Minister of Agriculture, Abbas Mortada at the time, threatened breeders and farm owners to import white meat from abroad, because “the citizen is not a stick breaker.” After some consideration and response, the parties agreed to issue an amended list of prices on the sixth of this month, closer to the “aspirations” of farmers and breeders and not beyond the reach of consumers, in return for farm owners working to increase their production to meet market needs. Thus, many prices were modified, including the price of chicken breast, whose price increased from 19 thousand pounds to between 23 thousand (pulled breast) and 29 thousand (special breast, cut on the weight and fillets of all kinds).
However, the text of the agreement did not prevent some farm owners and major distributors from continuing to legalize distribution to the point of abstaining from delivery and monopolizing some products, including the “breast” of chickens that have become almost missing from the market, especially in the regions.
For all these reasons, Murtaza went to the last option, which is to open the door to import refrigerated white meat from abroad. The purpose of this decision was two things: the first was to fill the market’s need for poultry products. “The faith weakened the citizen not to deprive the citizen of poultry at the height of the meat crisis and high prices,” according to Murtada, and the second is to restore the balance of supply and demand and maintain prices, after demand exceeded supply . Mortada asserts that this is not a threat, but rather a measure to “kickstart” the market, and then “the decision expires,” calling on farmers to “review their accounts… and to stop storage.”
The decision is “final, and there is no going back on it”, because “food security is a red line.” Yet, for farmers and breeders, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. For them, what this decision means is that Murtaza “betrayed us”, according to Musa Fraiji, head of the Poultry Breeders Syndicate in Lebanon, as the minister broke the agreement, at a time when farmers promised to increase their production within a month from now “up to the twentieth of November … Upon the minister’s request, we imported the eggs that need three weeks for hatching, and then a month before they are released to the market, so that we can increase production by 30 to 40%. “The first is for the minister to reconsider the decision, because this matter will complicate the problem and will not solve it,” says Friji. So what does that mean? The answer depends on what farmers will do after the decision takes effect.
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