Mar 2nd, 2006 - Sri Lanka has decided not to ban imports of poultry feed inputs from bird flu hit India, on condition that it is thoroughly fumigated before it is shipped here.
All Island Poultry Association chief D D Wanasinghe said Indian exporters had agreed to fumigated its maze exports to Sri Lanka.
A proposal to fumigate the maize again on arrival in Sri Lanka has been shelved until tests result can confirm that the second fumigation will not leave a chemical residue on the maze.
Local industry has also asked the govt to temporarily remove a 15 percent VAT and 20 percent cess on maize imports as a concession the ailing poultry industry.
Sri Lanka imports 200,000 metric tonnes of maize a year, with some 90 percent of its sourced from India. Maize accounts for 50 percent of total inputs into poultry feed.
Sri Lanka produces an estimated 40,000 metric tonnes of maze annually, but part of it is diverted away from the poultry feed processing industry to for local consumption.
Bairaha Farms Managing Director Yakooth Naleem said: "We are keen to see local maze production increase, to help reduce input costs in the long run. But we need to give the local poultry farmers some concession to ease the current difficulties faced by them."
Naleem said removing the VAT and cess on maze imports would also help cushion higher freight charges if Sri Lanka is forced to ship maize from South America or other markets.
Poultry retailers say chicken sales have dropped 15 percent due to bird flu scares.
Wanasinghe said both live markets and processed chicken sales were down about 15 percent in recent months.
Along with sales, industry officials said prices have also dropped to as much as Rs. 80 for a kilo for live chicken.
Industry officials fear a drop in demand and prices could lead farmers to compromise of poultry feed and other inputs to cut production costs.
This could lead to lower production and higher prices along with a large scale drop out from poultry farming.
According to the All Island Poultry Association over 75,000 farmer families and 200,000 input providers are self-employed in Sri Lanka's poultry industry.
No Fly Zone
All airlines flying out of Colombo have also stopped serving chicken on board since last November, following a government ban on chicken imports from bird flu hit countries.
Most flights coming in however serve chicken and other meats like turkey or duck on board, if suppliers have health certification from their home countries.
National carrier SriLankan Airlines catering division imported all its chicken from South American countries like Brazil, supplying all airlines that fly out of Sri Lanka.
With the import ban - most recently extended to India – that has stopped.
Local farmers have been unable to meet SriLankan's huge demand for chicken, at low enough prices.
But with the ban on indefinitely, the Airline says it is looking at options.
"We have had problems in sourcing locally, because our quantities are quite large and we need large volumes of chicken parts and local suppliers could not meet quantities. Prices are also high," a spokesperson for the airline told LBO.
The Airline does source products like chicken sausages and smoked ham from local suppliers. "The management is looking at other options if the ban continues."
SriLankan Airlines Catering turns out about 12,000 meals a day, with chicken often the popular option on all sectors.