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ECONOMYNEXT – As Sri Lanka needs US$40 million a month to import animal products, the country should focus on local production of substitutes to minimize costs and ensure continued supply, All Island Poultry said Association.
Association President Ajith Gunasekera said on Saturday August 13 that with egg and chicken suppliers leaving the market due to lack of animal feed, Sri Lanka is facing health problems. supply of eggs and chicken to the local market and the tourism sector which is expected to explode from the third quarter of 2022.
Before the contraction, the poultry industry could produce 216,000 tonnes of chicken and 26.5 billion tonnes of eggs per year.
However, with the ban on fertilizers in 2021 leading to lower harvests, production of maize, a key raw material for animal feed, has plummeted.
With the emergence of the forex problem in March 2022, followed by the floating of the rupee by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), Sri Lanka imposed heavy restrictions on imports, which prevented the industry from import animal feed, supplements and drugs. As a result, local production dropped significantly, causing prices to rise rapidly due to high demand.
Gunesekara said the industry is concerned about a possible increase in demand in the coming weeks, with more restaurants and hotels mainly in urban areas restarting operations with the expected increase in arrivals. of tourists.
“We are currently unable to meet local demand. The demand for eggs and chicken for the tourism industry is extremely high. Restaurants will pay full price for available inventory. Products will have to be provided because tourism is an industry that needs to be supported. Our problem is that if this happens, how are we going to meet both local and tourist demand? ” he said.
Gunasekara said poultry product manufacturers have said that if the government provides adequate locally sourced feed substitutes along with other imported inputs such as supplements, they could increase the number of chicks they keep. and will be able to deliver chicken to market within 1.5-2 months. However, since it takes time for the chicks to mature and produce eggs, it would take a few months to increase the egg supply.
The sooner the government can get feed and other inputs, the sooner it will be able to provide the necessary supplies, he said.
Gunasekara said that due to the continued shortage of foreign exchange in Sri Lanka and following discussions with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Finance, the focus is again on the production of raw materials for the animal feed in the country. However, supplements and medications still need to be imported.
“We need US$40 million for this per month,” Gunasekara said.
“What we are asking the government to do is help us, through private or public banks, to import them as needed,” he said.
Meanwhile, international suppliers are willing to supply on credit, but the government has not allowed open account payments for the poultry industry, he said.
“The government has given permission to open accounts for 10 essential food items. Even though we produce essential foods, we are not classified as essential foods,” Gunasekara said.
He added that due to low production, three mother farms that produce chicks for poultry farms are at risk of closing.
Gunasekera said the closure of one of the parent farms may seriously affect the poultry industry and with the currency issue and quality issues, chicks could not be urgently imported to restart production. local.
“If we can get permission to import, we can encourage the SME sector again and continue sourcing. We need to protect existing producers, because only a limited number of farmers willingly turn to the poultry industry. If they leave, the possibility of new farmers arriving is low,” he said. (Colombo/August 13, 2022)