Food is one of the most important sources of energy for humans. Becoming self-sufficient in producing food is not the end of all, but nutritious food is most needed to ensure the balance of food. According to UN's FAO, proteins should contribute 10-15% to the energy of a human body. And, in this protein amount, animal protein must comprise at least 20% of inputs. However, in the developed world, the contribution of animal protein is 50%. In Bangladesh, to meet up the demand of animal protein, pungas fish and poultry chicken have great contribution. Especially, for the marginal and poor people these protein sources play a pivotal role. In recent times, I have observed some vegetables cost Tk 150 to Tk 160 per kg, whereas, the poultry chicken, per kg price was Tk 130 to Tk 140. Although, we know that there are some dishonest poultry traders who are trying to ruin this poultry market. I have already featured many documentaries on Hridoye Mati O Manush (HMOM) regarding these obstacles and prospects of poultry.
The positive news is, at present, turkey chicken is becoming the alternative source of protein in our country. Meanwhile, many entrepreneurs and farmers have started turkey farms. In a short time, they're making good profit out of it. Turkey depends on natural grass for food. You do not need to pay extra money to get their food. And, turkeys are hardy birds with low susceptibility to disease. The meat quality is great and since it's mostly cholesterol-free, it's well accepted worldwide. Considering all these factors, many entrepreneurs have started their turkey farms. I have introduced couple of them to you through HMOM and newspaper articles. What I assume, the problems farmers are facing with poultry chicken can be resolved with successful turkey farming.
It was 5:00am in the morning on November 19. I started from Dhaka for Dosaid village, located in Savar's Ashulia, to meet a successful turkey farmer. He is Amir Hossain. It was November, but there was hardly any sign of winter in Dhaka. Although the foggy weather on the rural landscape gave me some sort of cold from inside, when I got out of the car, it wasn't that cold that we generally expect from November. I reached Amir's farm at 6:15am. When they opened the main gate of the farm, I found large L-shaped shades, covered with big clothing to save the turkeys from winter cold. Amir Hossain greeted me and as the day passed, I found people getting busy every minute. The turkeys have started making sounds of their own. In a couple of minutes the whole farm starts buzzing with activities.
“I started my farm with only 21 turkey chicks, now I have more than thousands of them,” says Amir. Passion turned into commercial success, that's what I felt.
“I'm following scientific methods with progressive planning to grow them up in cages; different varieties, of course,” added Amir.
The different varieties have different colours. Amir Hossain's labour, intelligence, and investment worked like magic. In just one year, he has turned into a commercial turkey farmer.
“If you know where and why you're investing, then you must be able to reap the profit,” confidently says, Amir Hossain.
Many people from Dosaid village came to visit Amir's farm that morning. Many of them already had taken turkey chicks from Amir and they're also rearing it to make a better future for their farm. These success stories reminded me of the poultry campaign I ran on BTV during 90s. That poultry industry went over many hurdles to become an industry worth Tk 30,000 to Tk 40,000 crore. Many of them battled against bird flu, excessive feed and medicine price and that's why many of those affected farmers switched to turkey farming. Although Amir Hossain is a very new turkey farmer, I'm quite sure he's going to bring in a big commercial market of turkey in the coming four to five years. Let's check out in brief what Amir Hossain has done with his turkey farm in just one year.
“I've invested Tk 7 lakh to build a 6000 square feet shed where you can rear at least 2000 turkeys,” says Amir.
“I bought 21 turkey chicks for Tk 35,000 and that was my investment,” adds Amir.
The most surprising thing is that Amir has already sold turkeys worth Tk 7 lakh. Now, he's looking ahead because the turkeys that he has in farm will give him Tk 14 lakh. It's unimaginable, I mean the success is so rapid that it amazed me like anything.
Dear readers, a turkey can lay eggs when it's six-month-old and it can continue up to four years. However, the price of eggs and day-old chick (DOC) of turkey is quite high. There should be some sort of mechanism where small farmers can also grow turkeys. Four eggs cost Tk 800 taka. A 15-day-old turkey costs Tk 700 to Tk 800. There are varieties of turkey inside this farm. One named, Carbon Red is the priciest. Two of those cost Tk 70,000.
“If they're well reared in one year they may weigh up to 10 kg,” says Amir. Each turkey eats only 150 grams of food. As I said earlier, they prefer, natural grass, herbs etc. Food is not at all a problem in growing turkey chicken. Those who are in trouble with their poultry farms, can start small-scale turkey farms and gradually expand it, because it's really profitable.
Amir Hossain learned about turkey farming from online, to be specific, from YouTube. He has chosen Facebook to market his product. So, social media has helped him a lot. To remind you all, we still don't have a large commercial hatchery for turkey. Entrepreneurs have their own and very small incubators, which can't meet the demand anyway.
“The day-old turkey chicks imported from India do not have the standard we look for; many of those die,” said Amir. If this goes on, a booming industry may fail at the very beginning. The government's strict monitoring and other assistance would help turkey farming extension fast and make it more profitable in future. I also stress that livestock department should have more information on turkey and organize training for turkey farmers across the country.
Dear readers, the farming sector is becoming target-oriented, business and profit oriented sector. Any farmer can experiment with investing in small, medium and large scale. I have seen many small entrepreneurs becoming commercially successful. Amir Hossain's farm is a great example, I would say. The speed of the entrepreneurs must match with that of the livestock department and extension officers. This is where we often face the obstacles. I would demand growing turkeys adaptable to our weather and climate, availability of DOC of turkeys -- this is what we need and livestock department can assist the turkey farmers, in this regard with specific planning. I'm sure through this, the entrepreneurs will be greatly helped, unemployed youths will come forward, the livestock sector will benefit even more and turkey farming will have a huge positive impact on the overall economy of the country.