DHAKA, Jan 4, 2018 (BSS) - Rahela Khatun, aged about 39, is passing busy time at her poultry farm. She has around 3,000 chickens in her farm. Besides, she raises 200 goats and 175 sheep.
"As a woman, I had to face a lot of problems in society and even within my family while developing the farm. Now, no such problems exist as the men's outlook towards women has changed significantly," said Rahela, a self-employed woman of Madonpur village in Netrakona district.
She said the change in the mindset of the people has helped her raising self-confidence to take decisions.
This has been possible as women empowerment in Bangladesh witnessed stunning progress over the last few years, especially during the tenure of the present government, Rahela observed.
Like Rahela, many women gave credit to the present government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the issue of women empowerment as her administration has taken many pragmatic and epoch-making steps for the development and welfare of womenfolk.
Poultry farming has shown a unique way to hundreds of unemployed youth, especially women, and given a significant boost to the rural economy in the district.
District livestock officer Sankar Kumar Bosak told BSS that the state-run banks and other financial institutions have been providing loans under the government's Poverty Alleviation Programs to establish different income generating activities, including poultry farming.
There are around 3000 big, medium and small poultry farms in the district which are creating jobs for hundreds of unemployed people and boosting the rural economy, he added.
Rahela said Taka 1000 to 1200 is needed for rearing a hybrid chicken for one year, which lays 320 to 350 eggs annually. "So, I can easily maintain my family and make some money" she added.
Female owners of over a dozen of poultry farms of the district said the living standard of many unemployed people, especially women, has changed because of poultry farming.
Sources said around 60 lakh people, of whom 40 percent women, are currently employed in the country's poultry industry directly or indirectly.
Bangladesh Poultry Industries Central Council (BPICC) President Mashiur Rahman said the investment in the industry is above Taka 30,000 crore while it contributed about 2 percent to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
There are about 65,000 to 70,000 poultry farms across the country, Mashiur added.
He said around 821 crore eggs were produced from the poultry farms in 2016 while the number was 712 crore in 2015 and 639 crore in 2014. The demand of eggs will increase to about 1,480 crore by 2021, he said.
The BPICC president said the poultry industry is developing gradually reducing import dependency. A silent revolution has taken place in this sector as the investment is now around Taka 30,000 while it was Taka 1,500 crore only in the 80s.
According to the BPICC sources, the production of chicken was 6.75 lakh tons in 2016 while it was 5.74 lakh tons in 2016 and 5.51 lakh tons in 2014.
Mashiur said, "We are now self-reliant in producing eggs and broiler chickens. We have seven grandparent stock farms and around 80 small parent stock farms across the country."
Besides, he said, there are around 186 feed mills in the country. Of them, 70 feed mills are modern and registered.