Poultry industry on the verge of collapse
By Dilanthi Jayamanne
Egg and meat producers warned of a collapse of the industry which allegedly contributed 12.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), if no action is taken to increase animal feed volumes in the country.
Secretary, All- Ceylon Egg Producers’ Association (ACEPA) Ratnasiri Alahakoon when contacted yesterday (19) said that it was not only the agriculture farming community who had been hit by the fertiliser issue but also the poultry, dairy and the livestock industry as well. Therefore, the increase in the price of eggs is no cause for surprise, he said.
The shortage of rice polish and broken rice in the mills and in themarket has affected even the animals, said Alahakoon. By April 2022, the egg and meat industry would collapse under the current strain faced by the poultry and dairy farmers, he said. While the State Ministry of Livestock, Farm Promotion and Dairy and Egg Related Industries maintains a very laid-back attitude towards the fast-declining situation faced by the livestock farming communities, there are officials in that Ministry who think that grass alone is adequate for cattle farmers to feed their animals, Alahakoon alleged.
Milk producing cows – specially the high-quality breeds too require their quota of soya, corn, rice polish and oilcake. Also, poultry, pigs and goats too need to be given their quota of nutritional food, he said. But the State Ministry and the Finance Ministry have failed to do anything, leave alone to give livestock farmers relief to either produce or import animal feed.
Just like the cost of living has been increasing for the people of this country, so have the prices of the ingredients which go into animal feed. “Not a murmur was made when the price of an egg plummeted to Rs. 10 a few months back and producers had to sell eggs on the roadside or go about in lorries in an attempt to retail them. But now everybody, including parliamentarians; seem to have found their voices with the price of an egg increasing from Rs. 23 to Rs. 25, said Alahakoon. The price increase was a result of the high cost of production.
The ACEPA Secretary said that rice polish which was Rs. 30 to 35 per kilo was now over Rs. 40 to 45. Soya which had been sold between Rs. 80 to 90 per kg had increased to Rs. 185. Dicalcium phosphate (DCP), a dietary supplement used to fight calcium and phosphorous deficiencies in livestock which was retailed earlier at Rs. 60 to 70 per kg was now Rs. 250 per kg. The production of corn in Sri Lanka was inadequate to meet the demand for both human and animal consumption. Also, soya had to be imported to the country.
But now the Government claims that it was short of US dollars to do so. “Therefore, either the Government or all concerned parties should give us an alternative. Otherwise nothing would be able to stop the entire industry from falling apart by 2022 in a way,” he said.