24th Feb, 2006: Trinidad and Tobago - Moves by local importers to increase the volume of stockfeed from Trinidad and Tobago on the local market could significantly affect the operations of the Guyana Stockfeeds Ltd, (GSL) according to a source in the local poultry industry.
According to the source while there were no pre-Caricom Single Market (CSM) restrictions on the importation of stockfeed into Guyana, production problems at GSL had created a "critical opening" that could result in strong competition particularly from Trinidad and Tobago.
Stabroek Business has learnt that in the face of a recent shortage of local stockfeed moves are afoot to increase the volume of imports of National Feeds, a brand of stockfeed manufactured by the National Flour Mills of Trinidad and Tobago. The importer, Guyana Livestock and Pet Supplies of Church Street Georgetown has already commenced the distribution of the Caricom product through distributors in Georgetown and the East Coast Demerara and plans to import larger batches and to broaden its distribution base over the next two weeks.
GSL General Manager Robert Badal has told Stabroek Business, however, that the company is confident that it can hold its own against imported stockfeed. He explained that over the past three months the GSL had encountered production problems resulting from a shortage of bran on account of low rice production. "We have recovered from our difficulties and we can guarantee supplies to all our customers for the entire year," he said.
Badal disclosed that in the face of the shortage of local bran the GSL had switched to importing alternative raw materials, soya and corn, from the United States, a move that had remedied its production problem. According to Badal the GSL has stockpiled 6,000 tons of raw material which would enable the company to provide adequate supplies to the local market up to March this year. He added that further supplies of raw material were due to arrive in Guyana in a matter of days to ensure supplies at least up to the end of May.
The GSL General Manager told Stabroek Business that the locally produced feed was both cheaper and superior in quality to the feed imported from the sister Caricom country. According to Badal the containerization of feed for export to Guyana would result in loss of quality. Earlier this week the GSL manager met poultry farmers to assure them of the company's capacity to meet their feed requirements.
Kaituk, the local brand, is being retailed at $3,400.00 per 100-lb bag while the imported feed is being retailed at $3,800.00 per 100-lb bag.
In recent months GSL's feed production problems has resulted in stockpiling by concerned poultry farmers, a development that forced the company to introduce a system of rationing.
The Ministry of Agriculture estimates put the number of large poultry farmers at around 5,000 with several thousand smaller poultry farmers throughout the country.
Badal disclosed that GSL also exports four containers of feed (approximately 80 tons) per week to Suriname but that it has fallen behind with its exports in view of production problems. According to Badal the GSL will commence shipping outstanding orders to Suriname next week.
Stockfeed retailers and industry sources have said that the GSL has frequently been an unreliable supplier and that the industry was far too important to the local economy to depend exclusively on the vagaries of the company's production problems. The industry source with whom Stabroek Business spoke said that the GSL was sometimes known to import its raw materials on a "just in time basis." According to the source, GSL needs to ensure that it has "at least 3-6 weeks supply of ingredients or feed" on hand.
While GSL is the country's largest supplier of stockfeed some of the larger local poultry rearers including Bounty Farm and Didco produce feed for their own poultry. Bounty Farms Managing Director Partick De Groot told Stabroek Business that the company produces feed for its own birds but supplies around 5% of the feed that it produces to regular customers. Bounty farm has to feed up to 600,000 chicks.
Several weeks ago Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Dr. Dindyal Permaul told Stabroek Business that the local poultry industry could be on the verge of developing an export capacity.
Badal told Stabroek Business that the GSL had recently invested in upgraded technology and increased storage space in order to respond to an anticipated continued increase in demand for stockfeed. He said that while the company was presently importing raw materials from the United States to ensure continuity in production it would resume purchases from local rice millers as soon as rice production levels permitted.