The import of eggs has been held up because of the delay in getting the negative avian influenza certification from a competent authority.
Since last month, the government has permitted 15 companies to import 15 crore eggs to cool down the skyrocketing prices.
According to the import policy order of Bangladesh, eggs must be imported from an avian influenza-free country and the importers must collect the negative certification from the competent authorities, said Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh yesterday.
So far, only one or two of the companies could open the letters of credit and the remaining companies are yet to collect the negative avian influenza certification.
Moreover, if they cannot make any profit from importing eggs from avian influenza-free countries, they might not import at all.
If the collection of negative avian influenza certification is the only challenge to importing eggs, the commerce ministry may ask the fisheries and livestock ministry to relax the condition temporarily for the sake of bringing down the egg price, Ghosh added.
It took Tiger Trading, one of the companies that got the import permit, 18 days to obtain the necessary paperwork from the Office of Chief Controller of Imports and Exports as egg is not a traditional import item, said its proprietor Md. Saifur Rahman.
It took him more than a week to obtain the negative avian influenza certification from a competent authority in India through the high commission of Bangladesh.
“By this time, the Puja holidays started in India, so we are delayed by another week. I hope the first consignment of the eggs from India will arrive in Bangladesh soon as the public holiday in India is coming to an end.”
The imported eggs will be sold in trucks at government-fixed prices at five points in Dhaka, he added.
When Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi announced the decision to allow eggs to be brought in from abroad on September 12, he said the foreign eggs would hit the market within a week as many companies are raring to import.
Six days later, the commerce ministry gave permission to four companies to import four crore eggs from India.
In the meantime, it also fixed the price of egg at Tk 12.
But neither the price cap nor the import permits had any effect on cooling the egg market.
Currently, a dozen eggs are selling for Tk 155 to Tk 160, meaning each egg costs Tk 12.91 to Tk 13.33 at the retail level.
Poultry farmers have increased the prices of eggs using the excuse of price hikes of poultry feed in the global market.
Currently, some 290 registered feed mills and another 100 unregistered ones are producing 80 lakh tonnes of feed for poultry, fisheries and dairies.
As much as 70 percent of the production cost goes towards poultry feed.
In fiscal 2022-23, 2,337.63 crores of eggs were produced, according to data from the fisheries and livestock ministry. The annual demand for eggs was 1,806.48 crore, the data also said.