Sri Lanka poultry producers cry foul

Eight to 10 percent of the poultry industry are hesitant from purchasing day-old chicks from the hatcheries who complain of an excess of chicks and have even started destroying them or culling the senior batches.

The President of the Poultry Producers Association Dr. D. D. Wanasinghe told The Island Financial Review that most of the small scale farmers are in dire straits due to the import of chicken from India and are temporarily moving out of the market as they do not possess sufficient freezers to stock their chicken, and for this reason the price of a kilo of chicken in Ja-Ela, Kandana and Wattala areas have dropped to between Rs. 300 to Rs. 310. He said that the big time producers stock their chicken in freezers, which could be stored for about two months.

Dr. Wanasinghe said that there was plenty of locally produced chicken in the market at the controlled price of Rs. 350 (skinless) and there is about an estimated 200,000 kg in stock at the moment. He said that production has also shown a marginal increase in production and that there was absolutely no necessity for any imports of chicken from India.

He said that the Indian chicken was not moving at Lanka Sathosa outlets as they are heavier in weight (more than 1 kg) than the local chicken which weighs about 1 kg 200 grams with consumers preferring to purchase the local chicken.

Dr. Wanasinghe also said that a kilo of chicken in India is Rs. 47 (Rs. 110 Sri Lankan), while an egg costs Rs. 2.86 (Rs. 7 Sri Lankan). India employs three million persons in the industry and produces 2.3 million tons of chicken annually, while 118,000 tons are produced in Sri Lanka each year.

Where the Indian eggs were concerned, Dr. Wanasinghe said that they were small in size and weighs about 50 grams though sold at Rs. 12, while the eggs produced in Sri Lanka weighs more than 55 grams though costing anything between Rs. 15 to Rs. 17 with the consumer getting more nutritional value.

A major egg distributor who wished to remain anonymous said that the imports of eggs and chicken were paralyzing the local poultry industry. He too commented that prices of these two commodities always increased during December for Christmas and again in April for the Sinhala and Hindu New Year and also during the Ramazan festival.

He told The Island Financial Review that millions are involved in the industry and felt let down by the government, who should encourage and not discourage the local poultry industry. He blamed the import of 150,000 day old chicks from England and sold at Rs. 210 per chick. He said: When it was in demand it was sold for Rs. 70, but now increased to Rs. 210.

He said that there was even a ban on Indian poultry products by Oman, Bhutan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar due to avian flue two years ago, but lifted now. This was mostly in the eastern part of India who are now setting their sights on Sri Lanka with egg prices escalating.

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