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Third World Poultry Means Good News for U.S. Grain Farmers

October 16, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The broiler, a tender young chicken that doesn’t live to a ripe old age, is gradually becoming a locally grown food item in the Third World instead of an imported delicacy, says Agriculture Department analyst ary Vocke.

One reason has been the modernization of chicken production in some Third World countries, where technology and U.S. grain have been used to begin or expand domestic broiler industries.

″For example,″ he said, ″the grandparents of a broiler raised in Saudi Arabia may be from Europe, the corn in his (feed) ration from the United States, and the soybean meal from Brazil.″

Vocke added: ″The automated feeding equipment that delivers the ration may be from the United States. The Saudi Arabian family that eats this broiler probably used to eat chicken from Western Europe and the United States.″

Because of the rapid growth of poultry production, the Third World has become a net importer of coarse grains such as corn and sorghum, he said. And continued expansion ″will likely create even more markets″ for the United States and other grain exporters.

Vocke, who works in the department’s Economic Research Service, described Third World poultry development and its impact on trade in a new report on world agriculture.

The countries listed as major chicken meat importers included Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuwait, Yemen Arab Republic, Oman, Jamaica, Iran, Zaire and Mexico. Third World exporters included Brazil and Thailand.

Modern broiler production, even in countries that are short on feed, doesn’t have to be linked to land and climate, the way crop production is.

″Raising broilers has become an industrial activity, the final step in the production process,″ Vocke said. ″The first step includes grain producers and foundation poultry breeders. The grain and breeding stock they produce are inputs for feed manufacturing and hatching egg operations.″

The feed rations and young chicks are the ingredients for the final step, raising the chicks to market size. Because grain and breeding stock are easily transported, broilers can be raised almost anywhere.

Vocke noted that the broiler industry, which was pioneered in the United States and raised to a high degree of specialization, is relatively new. Sixty years ago chickens were raised mostly for eggs by farm families. Chicken meat, from young ″fryers″ and old hens, was a byproduct.

City consumers found chicken often expensive relative to pork and beef. In grandmother’s time, chicken on Sunday was a family treat.

″These conditions are not much different from those found in many Third World countries today,″ Vocke said. ″Few foresaw the technological and organizational innovations that created the broiler industry.″

The integration of the industry from feed preparation to slaughter and marketing resulted in reduced broiler production costs and lower retail prices. Broilers made a hit with American shoppers and consumption levels rose.

It is this experience that is being relived in the Third World. But Vocke said the technology transfer to the countries beginning to expand poultry output requires money, or foreign exchange, for the purchase of hatching and growing facilities.

″Feed mills for preparing rations are a high priority,″ he said. ″A local mill can reduce the recurring cost of importing feeds, even if some of the ingredients still have to be imported.″

Also, storage bins and equipment for feed ingredients may have to be imported, and if slaughtering is to be done in modern plants, that could mean further import spending.

″In traditional markets, chickens are sold live and often slaughtered on the spot,″ Vocke said. ″With urbanization and increasing concern about sanitation, slaughtering in plants becomes more common.″

Broiler productivity has been hampered by the shortage of foreign exchange in some Third World countries, he said. Zimbabwe, for example, is self- sufficient in grains but has a lack of foreign exchange to import vitamins, medicines and minerals for use in higher quality feed.

The developing broiler industries are also hurt if they can’t import chicks or hatching eggs from the United States or Europe.

Vocke said that the proportion of total poultry output coming from modern operations is estimated at between a third and two-thirds in the lower-income countries of Asia and Africa.

″In the higher income countries of Latin America, North Africa and the Far East, the proportion is between 70 percent and 90 percent,″ he said. In some Middle Eastern countries, it is above 90 percent.″

But broilers are not always the locally favored source of animal protein, Vocke said. And, unlike chickens, grazing cattle, sheep and goats don’t compete with humans for grains grown for domestic consumption or for foreign exchange to import grains.

″Some countries, however, do not have sufficient land or a suitable climate either to provide grazing for ruminants (such as cattle and goats) or to grow grain to feed poultry or pigs,″ he said. ″When demand for animal proteins grows, countries can import meat, or, in the case of broilers, may import the production technology and the feed ingredients to raise the birds locally.″

End Adv for Sunday, Oct. 16

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