Story: Samuel Duodu, Sunyani
THE Poultry Development Board (PDB) and the Veterinary Services Council (VSC) are developing a legal framework that will help regulate hatchery practices in the country.
The guidelines, which are at the formative stages, when completed, will be presented to Parliament to be passed into a law.
The hatchery law has become necessary as some hatcheries in the country are producing poor and unhealthy day-old chicks for sale to poultry farmers, who are unwilling to change them because there is no law protecting the farmer.
The Executive Secretary of the PDB, Mr Nicholas Oteng, disclosed this in Sunyani at the launch of an advocacy programme by the Brong Ahafo Regional Poultry Farmers Association, aimed at campaigning for the passage of a hatchery law to regulate the activities of operators in the hatchery business.
The project, which was on the theme "Advocating Legal Framework for Production of Healthy Chicks from Hatcheries", was sponsored by the Business Advocacy Campaign Fund (BUSAC Fund).
Mr Oteng stated that since there was no legal framework for the hatchery sector, operators in the industry were exploiting the situation by producing poor quality day-old chicks for sale to poultry farmers, and that if something was not done to curb this practice, it would collapse the poultry industry.
The executive secretary disclosed further that in the 1980s some veterinary experts came together to develop some guidelines for hatchery practices in the country, but that could not be implemented, saying "it was that work done by the experts which the PDB is collaborating with the VSC to be upgraded into a law".
Mr Oteng commended poultry farmers in the Brong Ahafo Region for seeing the need to come together to advocate a legal framework to guide hatchery practices in the country, saying 'with a united front, farmers could achieve a lot that would go a long way to improve their lot and the poultry industry".
A retired Veterinary Surgeon and Poultry Consultant, Dr Valentine T.K. Agbeli, who spoke on the theme, stated that research had revealed that some hatcheries in the country sold day-old chicks to farmers, of which (the chicks) from 45 to 55 per cent turned out to be cockerels.
He stressed that all these happened because there was no law that protected the poultry farmer and, therefore, the hatcheries responsible also refused to replace these birds which died from preventable hatchery diseases.
Dr Agbeli, therefore, called on the government, as a matter of urgency, to enact a hatchery law to protect poultry farmers from these hatcheries who sold what he termed ‘undersized’ for underdeveloped weak day-old chicks.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, for his part, urged the poultry farmers to unite in order to attract big loans to establish their own hatchery and feed mills which would provide them with the quality raw materials.
This move, he said, would also save them from the overexploitation of the hatchery owners and feed millers in the poultry industry.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Secretary of the Poultry Farmers Association, Mr Anthony Abu, bemoaned the poor and unhealthy day-old chicks produced by some hatcheries for sale to farmers, an attitude that was gradually destroying the industry and affecting farmers’ income.
He stated that based on this unhealthy development, the association decided to come together in order to lobby the government for the passage of a law to guide hatchery practices in the country.