Sri Lanka gathering data on stocks to relax maize imports

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is awaiting an assessment of domestic stocks to give maize import license for the poultry sector which has been hit by Easter Sunday bombers.

"At the moment maize stocks are held by collectors," Agriculture Minister P Harrison told reporters.

"They want higher prices. If they do not release stocks, we will have to issue import licenses. Otherwise eggs and other prices will go up."

Maize collectors are a politically powerful and have blocked imports for years to keep domestic prices high and made Sri Lanka’s chicken and egg prices and protein generally higher than the rest of the world, critics say.

Sri Lanka’s poultry farmers have asked for maize import licenses after demand for chicken fell after the tourist arrivals collapsed in the wake of Easter Sunday bombings.

Agriculture secretary K D S Ruwanchandra said the damage from the fall army worm in the main Maha season was less than expected.

About 83,000 hectares were cultivated which could produce about 300,000 tonnes of maize, but the final production had been 274,000 metric tonnes, which was about 10 percent less than expected.

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He said the poultry farmers had met the officials and asked for relief.

At the moment there may be about a 10,000 tonnes shortfall, he said.

The Department of Animal Husbandry and Health has been asked to make an assessment of stock and give a report to the ministry, Ruwanchandra.

Minister Harrison said the farmers no longer had stocks and all the stock were with the collectors. The government wanted to give a guaranteed price of 45 rupees a kilogram for farmers he said.

Food And Agricultural Organization data shows that Black Sea maize was about 172 US dollars a tonne (about 31 rupees a kilo), before shipping. (Colombo/June13/2019)