ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s livestock including cattle and chicken are facing malnutrition due to the lack of feed, vitamins and rising costs, the island’s state veterinarians said as the forex crisis driven by money printing hits imports.
“We have been monitoring the crisis for sometimes and have informed the relevantauthorizes on how to protect the lives of these animals, but we have been ignored,” Nuwan Hewagamage Secretary of the State Veterinary Surgeons Association told reporters in Colombo.
“This has created a crisis in the industry.”
The association is calling for subsidies to help the livestock but the government is running a large budget deficit after hiring 50,000 unemployed graduates and giving a billion US dollar relief package for humans in January on top of an existing budget deficit.
There are shortages of maize, rice polish and soyabean, while prices are rising.
“Animals can’t be kept hungry like humans,” Hewagamage said. “Farmers are moving away from the industry and culling layer chicken for meat.”
Veterinary officials said cattle are also facing shortages of feed concentrate while prices are soaring.
The Veterinarians said some animals are falling sick and there was a shortage of antibiotics, anesthetics and medicine needed for operations.
The President of the Government Veterinarians Association H H A Piyasiri said feed concentrates were in short supply.
There were signs that milk output was falling due to bad feed and cattle getting sick.
In one instance when tests were carried out on cattle that developed diarrhea it was found that rice husk had been milled and mixed in and the fibre content was as high as 54 percent, which could not be digested.
Then the milk output falls and the animals get sick.
Veterinarians say about a 30 million litre loss of production may be taking place due to problems with feed concentrates. In 2021 Sri Lanka is estimated to have produced about 513,000 million litres of milk up from 491,000 million litres in 2020 according to official data.
They say it is unfortunate that domestic milk production is falling while imported milk is also reducing due to feed problems from forex shortages while the rupee collapse has driven up prices, making dairy products and meats un-affordable to many.
Economists and analysts had urged authorities not to print money, driving up reserve money, and credit, driving up broad money and then triggering balance of payments deficits. (Colombo/Mar25/202 – Update II)