(MENAFN - Arab News) Domestic production of white meat falls short by 55 percent, said Fahd Balghuneim, minister of agriculture.
The minister, who was interviewed by Okaz newspaper, said his ministry had nothing to do with the current price increases.
"Companies are producing hundreds of thousands of broilers every day, but the demand for white meat is higher than the production capacity," said Balghuneim.
He blamed the growing demand for white meat on the high prices of goat meat. Balghuneim, who himself owns a farm producing feed for livestock, also said the high livestock prices were due to high feed prices and international speculation, the newspaper reported.
The minister said prices could drop once the global weather improved and the affected countries received more rain.
A ministerial committee was discussing the situation, and when it finds an increase in prices, it might recommend subsidizing livestock feed to help stabilize prices, he told the newspaper.
"We encourage individuals and companies to expand production as we subsidize small livestock plants, either by aiding them financially or creating cooperative societies where small investors can join together," said Balghuneim.
Asked whether prices were going to fall anytime soon, the minister said it was unlikely before the production was enhanced five years from now. "When we feel a real efficiency in livestock projects, we can talk about considerable production capacity," he said.
The shortfall was covered by local imports, Balghuneim said.
He said his ministry was protecting the national products and was monitoring the industry at all times.
The minister denied rumors chickens are fed with chemically treated feed to fatten them up. He said his ministry sends inspection teams unannounced from time to time to farms to take samples for testing.
"What is said about children getting fat because of chickens is not true. This is because of malnutrition, not hormones added to chickenfeed," he said.
The ministry had 400 veterinarians monitoring more than 200 plants, said Balghuneim. The number should instead be 4,000 and his administration was working toward that, he added.