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Sri Lankan Poultry Industry Still in Crisis

by 5m Editor
4 January 2010, at 8:34a.m.

SRI LANKA - Continuing high feed ingredient prices are reducing domestic production of poultry meat and eggs, and putting up consumer prices.

The threat to import poultry products due to a shortage of chicken and a steep rise in the price of eggs still remains with Live Stock Development Minister, R.M.C.B. Ratnayake, has warned that he is monitoring the situation.

The Nation of Sri Lanka reports that, according to the industry, the main reason for the current situation is a shortage and high price of maize, which make up 50 per cent of the poultry feed primarily due to a cartel buying up much of the previous harvest.

Minister Ratnayake told The Nation that they have taken a decision to allow the import of as much as 40,000 tonnes of maize and permits have already been issued for the import of 20,000 tonnes, but much of this has yet to be shipped into the country.

The industry which has already seen about 40 per cent of the producers going out of business due to the situation charged that the laborious bureaucracy that they had to go through to obtain a permit takes about six weeks. There is also the problem of import taxes coming to as much as 70 per cent of the landed price of the commodity when it reaches Colombo.

But the minister said that since the increasing of the duty on imported maize from 25 per cent to 35 per cent the local production of the commodity has gone up from 20 per cent of the country’s requirement to 60 per cent.

Industry sources have warned that any hasty decision to import eggs and chicken will destroy the remaining local industry made up of about 70,000 farmer families and other commercial producers.

They also warned that Sri Lanka which is the only country in the region so far spared of bird flu would only be inviting the deadly disease with hasty imports.

Meanwhile, there has been a drop in the prices of eggs this week after the peak that was reached last week.

D.J. Madawala, the owner of Lanka Egg Centre the largest wholesale egg distributor in the country told The Nation that the price had dropped to 12.50 rupees (LKR) per white egg and LKR13.00 per brown egg from the previous week's LKR14.50 and 15.00, respectively.

But further trouble appears to be unavoidable as the next local maize harvest is expected to be somewhat disappointing due to late cultivation. The harvest, normally due in mid-February, is not expected before March.