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Sri Lanka bans maize and groundnut imports to protect farmers, trial new investments

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka will ban maize and groundnut imports after January 15, in an attempt to protect local farmers who are benefiting from new investments into research and development and irrigation, a top official said.

“We have given import permits to import before the 15th of January,” Agriculture Department Director (Development) Ajantha De Silva told EconomyNext.

“These import restrictions are imposed in order to give local farmers a fair price. We will be monitoring the market and will reconsider further imports should there be a deficit in the local production,” he said.

He said the Field Crop Research and Development Institute at Mahailuppallama has developed a new variety of hybrid maize which produces a higher yield than the normal maize variety available.

“Given that favourable cultivation conditions are duly provided, this hybrid maize which was developed last year, yields better than normal maize,” De Silva said.

According to him, the yield in the main Maha planting season will be around 300,000 metric tonnes.

De Silva said already plans are being implemented to facilitate the nationally required target of 400,000 tonnes of maize.

Maize is mainly used to produce animal feed.

Sri Lanka has imported 140,000 to 150,000 tonnes of maize annually over the past five years.

“Back then the per person consumption of chicken was four kilograms,” he said. “This has increased up to 10 kilograms per person now.”

“With the increase in demand for chicken which leads to a rise in the bird population, we have to increase the amount of feed we produce too.”

Sri Lanka is currently looking to satisfy its total maize and groundnut requirement through domestic production.

“Sri Lankan maize and groundnut cultivation is hampered by unfavorable weather and issues pertaining to soil,” De Silva said.

The Department of Agriculture (DOA) is currently conducting a program to further enhance domestic groundnut cultivation, he aid.

“Mullaitivu is an ideal place for groundnut farming. We have already geared up to expand cultivation in the area.”

The DOA has provided groundnut farmers in Mullaitivu with better irrigation systems and upgrades to existing facilities.

De Silva also said that mazie and groundnut import ban will be reviewed after observing domestic production in 2020. (Colombo/Jan06/2020)

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