Khan’s Poultry and Meats directors Jaaren Khan, left and Indra Khan with Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes at the opening of Khan’s Poultry and Meats in Gasparillo yesterday.

In these trying times where businesses are crumbling and hundreds of people are on the breadline, a well-known poultry enterprise in South Trinidad has expanded its wings.

Khan’s Poultry & Meats, which has been operating since 1990 in Marabella, opened not one, but two branches since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the shores of T&T.

They now have four branches and about 100 employees. At the opening of its newest location at Gasparillo Mall in Gasparillo yesterday, business director Jaaren Khan said they opened the two branches because they saw a need to provide affordable food to customers as well as employment during this pandemic.

“We saw the need for it because customers looking for a more affordable way to feed their families and the most affordable way is to buy raw chicken and raw meats and cook it.”

Khan said their third branch at Gulf View, La Romaine, was opened one week before the lockdown.

“And because we were classified as the essential service we did not have to close,” he said.

They employed 20 people at that location and another 20 at their newest branch in Gasparillo. Although their poultry business has remained open throughout the pandemic they have had challenges with supply.

“We buy live birds directly from local companies and we process them ourselves. There was a serious fluctuation in terms of the availability of the birds and the sizes of the birds which directly influence the prices. Right now it is starting to level off but we are expecting this to continue until the pandemic is over. We still have issues with the size of birds and the supply of birds. There was maybe a 50 per cent decline in the supply of birds and the size maybe a 40 per cent decrease in the size of the birds. Some weeks we get a normal supply and others no supply at all.”

Despite this, their prices remained the same. Khan said they understand that customers would not have as much disposal income with the downturn in the economy. For the Khan family, however, Gasparillo is close to their heart as it is their hometown.

“Our family is deeply rooted in Gasparillo so it is sort of a welcoming home for us,” he said.

As owners of non-essential businesses including the Gasparillo Mall and Raw Fitness Gym, he said they too have suffered losses with the closure of those businesses. With the opening of the Gasparillo chicken depot, however, they have been able to redeploy staff and hire new employees. Speaking at the event, Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes congratulated the Khan family for giving the nation positive news and providing much-needed employment during the pandemic.

“While we have been getting news of business closures and people going home they have brought a positive spin by bringing jobs and opening businesses and showing us that there is life after COVID-19. We can recover and we can do with family-oriented community businesses and if we invest in those businesses we will build our nation.”

Being a fenceline community, she said, the community would have been adversely affected by Petrotrin’s closure, and then with COVID-19. The Khan’s family also donated cheques in the sum of $5,000 to the Operations Smile orphanage in Williamsville and the Islamic Home for Children in Gasparillo. They also gave awards to three community stalwarts Imam Sylvan Ali, Oswald James, and Bob Ramroop, for their contribution and service to the community.