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Pakistanis make sure Imran Khan can’t count on the chicken scheme. They’re eaten, not sold

According to reports, about 90% beneficiaries of PM Imran Khan’s flagship 'Murghi Paal' scheme didn't sell the eggs in the market. Some even ate them.

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New Delhi: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s scheme to provide subsidised poultry meat across the country to boost the economy has failed miserably as the chickens reportedly didn’t lay eggs and were eaten by the beneficiaries. Under this Backyard Poultry scheme, colloquially known as ‘Murghi Paal’, launched in 2019, a total of 100,000 poultry birds were initially planned to be distributed among the deserving individuals over four years.

The initiative is aimed at poor households who suffer from stunted growth due to malnourishment. The organic eggs laid by the birds are not only meant to nourish the impoverished families but also supplement their incomes through sale of those eggs. Last year, 324,000 chickens were distributed to 50,000 families. 500,000 chickens are expected to be delivered across the Punjab province of Pakistan by the end of 2021.

Around 6,000 applications were submitted for 500 flocks of chicken in Rawalpindi alone last month — a computerised ballot decides who gets them. Pakistanis have been expecting to get their chickens at the subsidy rate of Rs1,050 instead of the market price of Rs1,500, in hope to raise their incomes as envisioned under Imran Khan government’s flagship scheme. However, certain media reports have painted a grim picture of how ‘Murghi Paal’ has actually panned out.

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According to a survey conducted by the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, about 90 per cent of beneficiaries didn’t sell the eggs in the market, reported Pakistan’s city41. Some even ate the eggs. This, despite the scheme provisioning a separate flock of 12 chickens meant to be provided for fresh meat that was expected to become edible after two months of rearing. According to the report, three per cent of beneficiaries had received chickens that died shortly and in 10 per cent cases, the chickens didn’t even lay eggs. Very few beneficiaries followed the scheme and sold eggs at Rs240 per dozen in the market.

The survey quoted in city41’s report also recorded that about 80 per cent of the public wanted the scheme to continue, while 17 per cent wished it to be discontinued or initiated again in a different form.

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Even before the launch of the scheme, apprehensions were raised about PM Khan’s ‘eggonomic’ strategy. In 2018, the criticism came from major political parties. The country’s former federal minister for planning, development and reform Ahsan Iqbal had expressed shock on social media, saying that on the brink of the fourth revolution, Pakistan’s effort towards a ‘Kattas-based economy’ was laughable.

Pakistan Peoples Party leader Khursheed Shah was quoted as saying that most politicians talk about making the country a nuclear power but “some are talking about chicken and eggs”.

According to one major study conducted in Pakistan, it was observed that poultry is seen as a ‘relatively low priority asset’ by the people and for a proper implementation of a scheme such as Murghi Paal, many factors have to be considered. It was believed that these considerations were absent from Khan’s proposal when he first announced the scheme.

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