ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s egg production had fallen and prices have picked up after disruption in feed supplies during a Coronavirus lockdown and maize supplying drying up amid import controls, an industry official said.
Sri Lanka slapped tight curfews from March to May to curb a Coroanvirus epidemic which had brought results but retail trade was also halted.
The farmgate price of eggs which was usually around 14.75 rupee had plunged during the lockdown. In the wholesale market eggs are bough and sold for around 17.50 and 19.50 rupees.
“Normally we get around 70 lakhs of eggs per day from our farms,” Ajith Gunasekara, President of All Island Poultry Association of Sri Lanka said.
“But we couldn’t sell that. Therefore, we had to sell it even less than the cost price. We sold it to 8 -10 rupees by using our vehicles.
He said farmers also sold some layers for meat amid problems with feed during the crisis which had reduced the adult chicken flock.
Sri Lanka’s farmers have been struggling with import controls on meat for years with grain prices kept up artificially by a so-called ‘mafia’ of collectors with political connections and an import substitution lobby.
Now the industry was short of maize to produce feed. Due to feed shortages nutrition of layers had weakened.
“Due to the shortage of food the production of eggs declined,” Gunasekara explained. “A chicken lays 280-300 eggs per year. But it has declined to 200-240 because we couldn’t feed them properly for the past two months.
Egg prices have bounced back to 20-22 rupees with the fall in production.
“So what we are trying is to get food for the animals” Gunasekara said. “Because the price is good for an egg the farmers tend to produce more. So if we can get the food we will be able to produce more eggs.”
“We have already purchase full stock of maize in Sri Lanka. We have no more to buy. ”
The poultry industry is trying to get permission to relax import controls and import maize. Sri Lanka tightened import controls after money printing led to a foreign exchange shortages.
There is also an export opportunity for eggs and meat with Brazil, a top exporters hit by Coronavirus, but maize import controls is blocking exports.
“Because we have an opportunity to export chicken from Sri Lanka we must have a good supply,” Gunasekara said.
“Therefore, we must continue the production. It is the first time ever Sri Lanka got the opportunity to export chicken.”
Many of Sri Lanka’s export opportunities are lost due to import substation which involves promoting export non-competitive industries which profit from tax arbitrage (the gap between import tax and a higher than world market price charged from consumers. (Colombo/June17/2020)