ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is likely to see further increase in beef prices as the island nation’s Northern province has banned the transportation of cattle to other provinces and slaughter houses owing to lump disease identified in the herds in that area, officials and industry stakeholders say.
“The disease is also slightly spreading to other provinces in Sri Lanka,” S. Vaseeharan, the Provincial Director at Department of Animal Production and Health (DAPH) told EconomyNext.
He said all the police stations have been informed to halt cattle transportation and health certificates have been mandatory to transport them after clearing for lump diseases.
The viral disease was detected in India and Sri Lanka in 2020 as well as this year, Vaseeharan said.
Officials are worried of the disease spreading due to possible illegal transportation.
Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts have been identified as high-risk zones, while Vavuniya, Jaffna, and Manner districts are under surveillance.
The Northern province accounts for 15 percent of the total beef production in the island, according to the government’s official data and the transportation ban could have an impact on the beef prices.
Beef which was sold around 1,000 rupees before the pandemic is now sold around 2,200 rupees ($6.5) per kilogram in Colombo.
“Due to the transportation restrictions in that affected area obviously, the supply will go down,” Dr. M Ijas, Chief Municipal Veterinary Surgeon at Colombo Municipal Council told EconomyNext.
“When there is a low supply, automatically the price will increase. And the Northern area has a larger supply of beef.”
Market players said the move could increase the price of other protein-based products including chicken, pork, and mutton as well.
The disease was first detected in Mullaitivu in February and the number of cattle prone to the disease varies between 300-500 or 3000-5000 depending on the area, Vaseeharan said.
He said there is no specific treatment for the disease, and infected animals should be quarantined and left to recover with their immune systems. (Colombo/ March 16/2023)