Sri Lanka hikes maize taxes, no plans yet to expand import quota
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has no plans yet to expand an import quota for maize based on current reports of crop damage by an infestation of the Fall Armyworms, while officials said import duties are being hiked.
Sri Lanka’s Agricultural Minister P Harrison was quoted as saying that maize import taxes would be hiked to help local farmers.
An official said that an existing 10 rupee per kilogram tax would be raised to 20 rupees. The gazette was to be effective from Sunday.
Agriculture Ministry Secretary K D S Ruwanchandra said an import quota for 2019 is yet to be set, but based on the damage so far done by the worm, an increase in the import quota does not seem necessary.
Sri Lanka had imported 100,000 metric tonnes of maize in 2017 and 2018.
A decision on whether to increase the import quota would be based on a report and recommendations from the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research & Training Institute (HARTI).
A HARTI official said the agency is considering the plight of local maize farmers and is unlikely to recommend easing import quotas based on emerging data.
The Department of Agriculture had lowered the Maha season maize harvest forecast from 248,675 metric tonnes to 240,675 in December, and down to 200,000 metric tonnes in January due to the worm attack, an official said.
Some of the damaged areas may be recoverable, and the final harvest could be higher than 200,000 metric tonnes, the official said.
The 2018 Maha season saw a harvest of 274,399 metric tonnes.
Ceylon Grain Elevators, a poultry firm said they are seeing a weakening in demand for chicken.
Sri Lanka All Island Poultry Association has said that maize accounts for around 60 percent of cost of production. (Colombo/Feb05/2019 -SB)