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Sunday May 19th, 2024

Sri Lanka’s egg price controls hit two generations of chicken

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s egg price controls have hit two generations of layer chicken, triggering a collapse in both layer and parent bird populations, an industry official said as the country grapples with the worst currency crisis in the history of its central bank.

Sri Lanka’s daily egg output is estimated to have dropped to about 4 million a day from the normal 7 million after farmers killed layer chicken for meat in the wake of price controls imposed by the Consumer Affairs Authority.

In the Christmas season when a demand for cake and also tourism picks up another 15 to 20 million eggs are demanded, which leads to a rise in price in all years.

Eggs packed in trays sold for around 65 rupees or more in super markets in December, while many small groceries stopped selling eggs at lower prices without packaging fearing raids by the CAA.

The boiler chicken industry, which was free from price controls has recovered as soaring prices of around 1500 to 1700 rupee a kilo incentivized farmers to grow more chicken while layer chicken were sold for meat, in the past quarter. Prices are now down to 1100 (live birds) to 1400 (frozen).

A court order has suspended the price control order until February. Price controls trigger shortages and also black markets if supply is not killed in the first place.

COERCIVE POWER: The Consumer Affairs Authority had previously created shortages and black markets in lentils and tinned fish with price controls.

Long Investment Cycle

Unlike broilers which are killed at around 40 days it take around 5.5 months for a new batch of layer chicken to mature, says Ajith Gunaskera, President of the All Island Poultry Farmers’ Association.

To grow a batch of layer chicken to maturity, he says it now takes about 3.5 million rupees, compared to around 700,000 rupees a couple of years before a currency collapse and a global commodity price spike in the wake of Fed money printing.

“Interest rates are now 30 percent so small farmers cannot make the investment,” Gunasekera said.

Coupled with a hike in value added tax, a cascading social security levy that has cast doubt on the ability of the current administration to do simple reforms, as well as the currency collapse has pushed up feed costs.

A 50 kilo bag of layers feed has gone up from around 5,000 rupees before the crisis to around 13,000 rupees now, Gunaskera said.

To bring down the cost of feed it has been proposed that excess paddy be allowed to be used for chicken feed but the Consumer Affairs Authority also banned it by a gazette notice.

The CAA has created shortages and black markets of several foods during the Coronavirus crisis including tinned fish and has emerged as a key threat to food security. The agency disrupted the egg industry and triggered shortages as access to protein has been reduced in the currency crisis.

No Parents

But farmers who now order layer chicks also cannot get them.

“Hatcheries are saying that it will take until March to give the layer chicks,” Gunasekera said.

“There are not enough layer parent stock.”

Sri Lanka needs around 80,000 parent birds to produce the required layer chicks but now there are only around 42,000, a the main hatcheries, according to Gunasekera.

Though Sri Lanka has grant parent farms for broilers, layer parents have to be imported.

As orders for chicks dried up due to price controls, hatcheries stopped importing new parent stocks, and the effect of price controls have reverberating across two generations.

Imported parent stock chicks take about 5.5 months to lay eggs.

“As a solution it has been proposed that Sri Lanka import hatching eggs (fertilized eggs of parent birds),” Gunasekera said.

“But that also has risks of diseases. If approved it will have to be done under strict controls in a few monitored farms.”

The price controls came shortly after a bakery owners association – which raises prices by press conference – called for them.

Over the past few days egg producers have got together to sell eggs at around 50 to 55 rupees.

However with market demand strong due to the shortfall other traders are going to the farmgate and offering higher prices, Gunasekera said.

The price controls and the disruption of the poultry layer sector come as President Ranil Wickremesinghe tries to implement a social market economy.

The social market economy is a term used to describe the post World War II West Germany where price controls were ended and strong controls were placed on the central bank, laying a strong base for producers and consumers to create an ‘economic miracle’.

(Colombo/Dec31/20220)

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Sri Lanka seeks to draw youth into agri-entrepreneurship with 1.6bn funding

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Agriculture and Plantation Industries has earmarked 1.6 billion rupees for the establishment of 160 model farms across the island, that are to be owned and operated by youth agri-entrepreneurs.

“The Ministry of Agriculture and Plantation Industries has taken steps to allocate 1,600 million rupees to establish 160 villages in 25 districts with 6 youth agri entrepreneurship villages in each district,” Minister Mahinda Amaraweera was quoted in a statement.

“Arrangements have been made to provide an amount of one million rupees to each village under the first phase.”

The Minister said the aim of the program is to attract youth to agriculture and to introduce them to new agricultural technology, so they could target local markets and exports.

Under the initiative vegetables, fruits, plantation crops, and fish are to be harvested, and livestock products are to be produced in the villages. (Colombo/May18/2024)

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Sri Lanka Navy nabs fishermen engaged in illegal fishing

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Navy apprehended eight persons engaged in illegal fishing in the seas off Ambalanpokkanei, Mullaitivu, Poduwakattu, and Trincomalee, this week.

“The operations also led to the seizure of 3 dinghies and unauthorized fishing gear employed for these illegal acts,” it said in a statement.

“The Sri Lanka Navy remains vigilant and conducts operations to combat illegal fishing in its sea and coastal areas, with a view to supporting legal fishing activities.”

The fishermen were engaging in light-coarse fishing and using unauthorized fishing nets.

They were intercepted by the SLNS Gotabaya and SLNS Walagamba of the Eastern Naval Command.

The individuals were identified as residents of Mullaitivu, Kuchchaveli and Poduwakattu, aged between 21 to 53 years.

The fishermen, dinghies and unauthorized fishing gear were handed over to the Assistant Directorate of Fisheries – Mullaitivu, and the Fisheries Inspector of Trincomalee for legal action, the Navy said. (Colombo/May18/2024)

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Fifteen years after the end of the war, victims still await justice at Mullivaikkal: Amnesty

ECONOMYNEXT – Speaking at a commemoration marking the 15th anniversary of the end of Sri Lanka’s internal armed conflict on 18 May 2009, which culminated in the brutal Mullivaikkal offensive where countless civilian lives were lost, Secretary General at Amnesty International Agnès Callamard said:

“Today’s anniversary is a grim reminder of the collective failure of the Sri Lankan authorities and the international community to deliver justice to the many victims of Sri Lanka’s three-decade-long internal armed conflict.

It is sobering to stand in the same place where, 15 years ago, countless civilian lives were lost during the last days of the war.

Ahead of this event, we have witnessed clampdown on the memory initiatives, including arrests, arbitrary detentions and deliberately skewed interpretations of the Tamil community’s attempts to remember their people lost to the war. Authorities must respect the space for victims to grieve, memorialise their loved ones and respect their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

UN investigations have found credible evidence of crimes under international law and other violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by those on both sides of the conflict, yet there has been little in the way of an independent or impartial national inquiry into such serious crimes.

Meanwhile, the families of those who were forcibly disappeared during the conflict have been left to search desperately for their loved ones. It is truly heartbreaking to hear from victims how long they have been demanding justice in vain.

The Sri Lankan government is best placed to provide answers to the victims, however numerous domestic mechanisms to establish accountability in the last 15 years have been mere window dressing.

The report by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released earlier this week too reiterates the gaping deficits in Sri Lanka’s accountability initiatives that has contributed to impunity remaining deeply entrenched.

Tens of thousands of victims and their families continue to suffer in anguish as they await truth, justice, and reparations. We stand in solidarity with them here in Mullivaikkal today.”

Background:

During the internal armed conflict from 1983 to 2009, Sri Lankan government forces and their armed political affiliates committed extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and acts of torture against Tamils suspected of links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The LTTE also launched indiscriminate suicide attacks on civilian targets like buses and railway stations, assassinated politicians and critics, and forcibly recruited children as fighters.

Violations of international human rights and humanitarian law peaked in the final months of the conflict, most notably in May 2009 when some 300,000 displaced civilians were trapped between the warring parties.

It was at Mullivaikkal, a small village in Mullaitivu district in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, where the final offensive between the Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE took place, killing at least 40,000 civilians according to UN estimates.

Each year, on 18 May, a memorial event at Mullivaikkal brings together thousands of war-affected Tamils to commemorate those lost to the war and demand justice and accountability.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) this week released a report on accountability for enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka.
(Colombo/May18/2024)

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