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Spike in feed prices push small and medium poultry farms to the brink of closure

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by Suresh Perera

With import restrictions pushing up poultry feed prices to an all-time high, a grave shortage of chicken and eggs is anticipated in the short term as small and medium scale producers are finding it increasingly difficult to keep pace with soaring production costs, a senior industry official warned.

A 50% drop in production has been projected within a few months as moderate farms are now unable to sustain their businesses and will eventually close down, says Ajith Gunasekara, president of the All Island Poultry Association.

“The reverberations will be felt in December when the demand balloons during Christmas”, he predicted.

He said that Sri Lanka produces only half of the poultry industry’s demand for maize, the main ingedient of poultry feed.

With consignments from India and Ukraine no longer coming due to import restrictions, the disruption in supplies has seen a spike in prices for the local produce.

A kilogram of maize has climbed to anything between Rs. 90-95 in the marketplace due to the non-availability of imports at competitive pricing, he said. “This will sound the death knell to small-time poultry farms”.

In any poultry farm, feed absorbs 70% of the operational cost, Gunasekara stressed. “Apart from maize, producers also have to procure soya, corn and vitamins at substantial cost for the feed combination”.

The prevailing Covid-19 related travel restrictions have also aggravated the crisis the poultry industry is grappling with as the continued closure of wholesale distribution points have crippled supplies to the retail chain, he complained.

This means the retail trade has no access to the produce to supply traders and mobile vendors who have been declared essential services to service consumers, he said.

There are a multitude of ‘meat shops’ run by poultry producers island-wide, but they have no stocks as wholesalers, who collect chicken from farms, have not been authorized to operate during the travel restrictions, he protested.

Those in the chicken processing business are also facing immense hardships as they have not been permitted to operate, he explained. “Overall, the losses suffered by the industry will be enormous”.

Retailers cannot be expected to collect stocks from farms in the provinces even if they are able to make it as they don’t have either freezer trucks or necessary storage facilities, Gunasekara pointed out. “Moreover, visits to farms have been restricted due to Covid-19 preventive measures”.

“We have asked the government to intervene in the matter as the industry is in deep trouble with skyrocketing poultry feed prices pinning down producers on the one hand and accumulating stocks in storage facilities on the other”, he noted.

He said that traders have also been dealt a big financial blow with stocks of chicken in their deep freezers no longer fit for consumption.

The farm gate price is Rs. 430 per kilogram of chicken (whole bird), but despite a MRP (Maximum Retail Price) of Rs. 550 in terms of the price control mechanism, it is being sold for Rs. 700 per kilo these days due to procurement difficulties, he continued.

The reluctance of people to eat fish due to contamination fears following the X-Press Pearl disaster has also triggered a bigger demand for chicken. Unlike fish, cooked chicken can be refrigerated and eaten for about a week by an average family, Gunasekara elaborated.

He said the annual demand for chicken is between 15,000 to 18,000 metric tons. There’s an annual surge of up to 18,000MT during the April-December festive season.

The production of eggs ranges from 700,000 to 800,000 per day. Purchased at a farm gate price of Rs. 12-14 each, retailers at present sell each for Rs. 20.

“We were prepared for a two-week lockdown, but with the continued closure, the situation is getting more desperate by the day”, he said.

 

 



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At least 17 killed after explosion in Peshawar mosque

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(picture from twitter)

BBC reported that at least 17 people have been killed in an explosion at a mosque in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

The blast happened when the mosque was packed with worshippers and more than 90 people were injured.

A section of the building was destroyed, and officials say people are buried under the rubble. Several others are being taken to local hospitals.

The cause of the explosion is unclear.

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More heavy rain ahead for New Zealand’s largest city

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Auckland experienced an unprecedented amount of rainfall on Friday (picture BBC)

BBC reported that residents in flood-hit northern New Zealand are bracing for more heavy rains as officials issued severe weather alerts.

At least four people have died and a state of emergency was declared in Auckland, which on Friday experienced its worst downpour on record.

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Information Dept. media release: EC Chief asks public not to be misled

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by Priyan de Silva

Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Nimal Punchihewa, asked to comment on a special news release, purportedly issued by the Director General of the Department of Government Information, on Sunday (29), told  The Island  that preparations for the 09 March local government elections were going ahead, as planned, and that the media statement at issue was misleading.

The media statement says: “The gazette notice with signatures of the Chairman and other members of the Election Commission required for the commencement of the Local Government election process has not been sent to the Government Press for printing.”

Punchihewa requested the public not to be misled by any misinformation being spread in an attempt to create doubts in their minds.He also  reiterated that the EC would not be deterred by any acts of intimidation.

Three of the EC members have been threatened with death by an unidentified caller to resign from their posts. They are S. B. Divaratne, M. M. Mohamed and K. P. P. Pathirana. The Opposition has accused the government of trying to sabotage the LG polls.

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