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Economy Hitting Chicken Farms Hard

Chicken farmers in Kandal province have lost hundreds of thousands dollars this year, thanks to the high cost of purchasing and caring for fowl and the recent low cost of selling them.

At least 49 individual chicken farms in Damnak Ampil commune, Ang Snuol district, alone, have closed since October, when prices began to fall in the wake of the global economic crisis, said Noy Sy Nuon, chief of the commune.

Each farm raised between 3,000 to 4,000 chickens, and the cost of raising each, from the purchase of chicks, to food and vaccine, is around $4, he said. But each chicken was now only selling for about $1.50 or $2, he said, leading many of the farms into bankruptcy. For 49 farms, the loss amounted to around $686,000.

All of the farms had been purchased by former rice farmers who sold their land to invest in raising poultry, Noy Sy Nuon said.

“Commune authorities are very concerned about the people living in this commune, after their bankruptcy and the sell-off of their farmland,” he said. “In my commune, there are many more chicken farms than in other areas in the district.”

The heavy impact of the global financial downturn comes amid renewed worry of bird flu in Kandal province, where authorities have culled at least 450 birds.

Mok Vy, 40, a Damnak Ampil farmer, said she had sold farmland for $8,000 and purchased a chicken farm to improve her living conditions.

“But I failed completely and lost all $8,000 from the sale,” she said.

At least 15 chicken farms in her village closed the same way, she said.

Mon Yann, 63, chief of Damnak Ampil village, said he himself had lost $5,000 in a chicken farm. At least 20 other chicken farms in the village had gone bankrupt, he said.

The main reason of the bankruptcy in the chicken farms was the rise in costs of raising the chickens, which exceeded the income, said Saing Soy, 61.

“If we insist on continuing to raise chickens, we will lose our farmland, houses and sometimes loans,” he said.

Var Lay, a 41-year-old farmer, said she had wanted her chicken farm to support her family, to replace rice farming or work outside the village, but she had not been lucky.