THE FIJI TIMES
Poultry farmers in Naitasiri have labelled a recent increase in chicken feed price as unwarranted and unfair.
They have asked the Interim Government to look into the matter urgently.
Farmers said they would have to close their poultry farms if the feed price was not lowered.
In a meeting at Muaniweni yesterday, farmers said they were unhappy with the explanation given by Crest Chicken Limited justifying the increase.
Farmer Bidya Prasad said the increase would not benefit the farmers in any way.
"Most farmers will have no choice but to close down because the increase is just too much to bear considering the amount of work and money that is needed to keep chicken sheds functioning," he said.
Mr Prasad said Crest Chicken officials had told them the increase was because of the increase in wheat price in Australia.
"They have been using us small farmers as a human shield to protect their business from imported chickens and this is what they have done to us.
"We are calling on the Interim Government to look at the kind of treatment that we, the grassroots farmers, have been exposed to," Mr Prasad said.
A letter sent to farmers by Crest says the increase was because of the reformulated high quality ration. Starter feed, which cost $21.38 for 25-kilograms has risen to $23.79, grower feed now costs $24.24 instead of $20.18 for a 25-kg bag.
The finisher feed, which used to cost $20.25, is now $22.78 for a 25-kg bag.
Abdul Gani, another poultry farmer at Muaniweni, said a single chicken shed would need at least 450 bags of each of the feeds.
"After all the increases they have imposed on us farmers, they have told us they will raise the price of chickens they buy from us by only a cent."
Goodman Fielder International (Fiji) Limited, which owns Crest Fiji Limited, declined to comment.