Livestock sector in danger


Sri Lanka is in a needy situation of providing good protein sources for human, since malnutrition is an emerging threat for the human health, Sri Lanka’s Livestock Sector experts said.

According to their observations, the current economic crisis has very badly affected to the livestock sector of the country in various ways.

“In these challenging circumstances we have been able to maintain human health and nutrition with available foods, President of the Sri Lanka Medical Nutrition Association Dr. Renuka Jayatissa said at a recent media conference.

“But the developing threat of prices of food, especially of good protein sources,it is now at risk of maintaining the nutritive status we sustained in the society,” he ascertained.

“Especially elderly people, children and pregnant mother are at high risk of malnutrition; therefore we should concern more on protein levels and its quality in the human diet. Animal proteins are playing a big role in this, since rice and other foods, can provide only 50% of our daily protein requirement,” he added.

The compositional quality of animal proteins is very good and it would be much better if at least one third of our daily protein level is from animal protein. Especially, the levels and nature of egg proteins are very important for the human diet and the doctors recommend at least one egg per day for a healthy person, but it can vary according to the requirement and health situation of the person. Further, milk and meat too play a vital role in human nutrition, therefore sustainability of this industry is very important to ensure the food security of the country.

Speaking at the event, President of the State Veterinary Surgeons Association, Dr. H. A. Piyasiri said that this is the time that veterinary surgeons have to visit farmers more than ever to give practical solutions for issues they are confronted with. But, instead of being with farmers, veterinary’ surgeons have to be in fuel queues. And, with no effective method of providing fuel, at least for their official vehicles, they are therefore unable to provide their services which livestock farmers need in this critical situation,” he said. 

Artificial insemination, which has to be done in time has been affected due to fuel shortage faced by the extension staff of the office,which directly affects the production of calves and milk yield. Further, shortage and high prices of veterinary medicaments and vaccines have badly affected the treating of sick animals and disease control programmes.

Therefore, he highlighted the importance of identifying the livestock services as an essential service and establishing an effective method to provide fuel and at least the needed medicaments and vaccines through government intervention. “We strongly request the government to focus on the proposal we have submitted under the theme of ‘Livestock Beyond 2022’ and take adaptive measures given in the proposal for the sustainability of the industry and to take maximum output from the sector to the GDP of the country.”

Meanwhile, speaking at the occasion, Chairman of the All Island Poultry Producers Association, Ajith Gunasekara, said that the poultry sector has been affected largely due to this crisis and a number of small and medium scale farms have been closed due to lack of feed and due to the high costs involved. Around 80% of eggs to the market are from these medium and small-scale farms.

“Therefore we can observe huge price increases in eggs and a shortage of eggs in retail shops. Due to this situation, a number of parent bird producing companies have reduced their production. If the situation continues, we have to starve the market of products, because if parent and grant parent bird producing companies reduce or stop their operations, we will not have day old chicks for layers and broilers to get chicken meat and eggs. If the economy comes back to normal, it will take more than a year to supply eggs and chicken meat to the market,” Gunasekara concluded.

By Ishara Gamage