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Labour shortage affects broiler industry

James Kon

The local broiler industry is facing a labour shortage affecting production of eggs and chicken with the country experiencing COVID-19’s third wave.

One of the main producers of eggs and chickens in the country, Hua Ho Agricultural Farm which has contributed 8.71 per cent of output for the industry in 2021 is facing a shortage of labour.

According to Director of Hua Ho Agricultural Farm Lau How Teck, they are facing a shortage of people to care for the chicken. “It is not easy to produce quality eggs and chicken. We need manpower to constantly look after the chicken. There is a drop of 10 per cent production because of management issues due to the lack of manpower,” he said, adding that even egg production has been affected.

He said, “During the Chinese New Year, our staff in the farm tested positive and many were also on quarantine order from close contact.

“The farm did not have workers to feed the chicken. This resulted in the loss of production of 350,000 eggs (30,500 per day for 10 days). “Our staff returned to work after two weeks and now we are still facing a shortfall of 10,000 eggs. This is because the health of the chicken has been badly affected and many have not laid eggs,” he said.

Chicken production suffered a loss of 10 per cent due to the shortage of labour. He said, “the farm has around 150 staff. We are short of 70 workers after they left the country following the expiration of their work permits. In the coming months, another 20 staff will be leaving.”

On the increasing price of chicken, he explained, is due to the rising price of chicken feed.
“The increasing price is attributed to the shipping cost and the ingredients of chicken feed.”
He hoped authorities will provide assistance in addressing the issues of labour shortage soon for the farm to continue its operation smoothly.

Meanwhile, CEO of Mufaiirif Farming Sdn Bhd Gilbert Ong also voiced similar concerns. He said they are facing a shortage of workers and requested the authorities’ support to solve the issue.

“We also need assistance for the approval of foreign quota.”

He added, “We have chickens but we don’t have workers to look after them.”

Meanwhile, Syarikat Soon Lee and Trading Sdn Bhd produces 7,000 chicken daily and is looking to increase production to 8,000 daily in May if there is sufficient staff.

On the rising price of chicken, he shared, “The cost of chicken feed has increased for the past 16 months and this has pushed up the price of chicken.”

However, the total output of the broiler industry recorded its highest production so far in 2021. The total output increased by around 16 per cent last year from 26,364.82 MT (2020) to 30,587.09 MT (2021), which is also the highest level of output achieved so far by the Sultanate. This means that Brunei recorded the highest increase for two consecutive years.

Based on the monthly output chart for 2021, the highest output is between March to May to meet the demand in the month of Ramadhan and Syawal.


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