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Small-Scale Sri Lankan Producers Under Pressure

by 5m Editor
1 February 2011, at 12:05am

SRI LANKA - Local chicken producers are unhappy about imports of chickens and eggs from India.

Eight to 10 per cent 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, according to Lanka Newspapers.

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 300 and 310 rupees (LKR). 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 LKR350 (skinless) and there is about an estimated 200,000kg 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 1kg) than the local chicken which weighs about 1.2kg, with consumers preferring to purchase the local chicken.

Dr Wanasinghe also said that a kilo of chicken in India is 47 Indian rupees (INR; LKR110), while an egg costs INR2.86 (LKR7). 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 50g though sold at LKR12, while the eggs produced in Sri Lanka weighs more than 55g though costing anything between LKR15 to LKR17 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 LKR210 per chick. He said: "When it was in demand it was sold for LKR70, but now increased to LKR210."

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. Lanka Newspapers reports him saying that this was mostly in the eastern part of India who are now setting their sights on Sri Lanka with egg prices escalating.