Betong chicken ready to take flight


After years of lower sales resulting from the
bird flu epidemic and violence in the southernmost provinces of the
country, the Betong chicken industry is now getting a boost from state
agencies and expects a bright outlook.


Osmep staff recently staged a contest in Yala to promote the
high-quality Betong chicken breed, now set to benefit from state
assistance after suffering the impacts of bird flu and political
violence in southern provinces.

Assistance has flooded in to promote the industry, including a plan
to list the poultry under the Intellectual Property Department’s
Geographical Indication (GI) protection to allow sustainable growth.
Another project is to build an integrated Betong chicken industry in
Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, the three southernmost provinces of
Thailand.”The bird flu in 2004 destroyed the industry and continuing
unrest caused much difficulty for farmers and operators to resume
business,” said Krirkrith Rojanarawiwong, a livestock official in
Betong in Yala.

“A number of operators left the business due to the flu, causing a
shortfall in supply to restaurants and tourist enclaves in the South.”

Betong chicken is not only a popular dish among local residents but
also Malaysian-Chinese business people and tourists travelling to
Betong and Hat Yai districts.

The chicken is famous for its tender and particularly yellow meat
with less fat, despite being bigger than conventional chickens.

Betong chickens originated in China and have fluffy yellow feathers
with yellowish skin that grows thicker to endure colder weather and
large mosquitoes, mainly from rubber plantations, Mr Krirkrith said.

Though the chicken has been a top product in the district for
decades, there is no standard slaughterhouse or processing business
there, which will be a starting point for the Office of SMEs Promotion
(Osmep) to start an integrated Betong chicken industry.

The project would cover farms, a standard slaughterhouse and a
processing plant that meet Good Agricultural Practices and halal
production requirements with a capacity to process 2,000 to 3,000
chickens per day.

“The cost of investment could rise to 5 million baht when a packing
plant is added with our own product brand name,” Mr Krirkrith said.

Pak Tongsom, the acting Osmep director-general, said his agency had
teamed up with government agencies in the three provinces to promote
the business on a commercial scale.

Entrepreneurs will be trained in farm and production management
while Osmep will guide them on product distribution and provide
financial support.

The project will start from downstream to upstream businesses,
covering the establishment of hatcheries to supply quality chicks to
farmers, and sourcing high-standard feed at low cost.

According to Mr Pak, more effective marketing networks will be set
up to ensure a steady supply to retail chains at competitive prices.
Also, Osmep will seek co-operation from the Thai Restaurant Association
to encourage specific listing of Betong chicken on menus.

“We expect the project to help members earn about 5,000 baht per month for 300 chickens raised,” he said.

Mr Pak added the project is one of a few farm businesses Osmep has
supported to build prosperity for the three southernmost provinces.
Other projects include commercial goat and abalone farming.