- To allocate additional 30, 000 hectares for maize cultivation
- SL has an annual maize requirement of 600, 000 metric tonnes
The government has decided to increase the cultivation of maize to make up for the imports, as feed millers and poultry producers remain hamstrung by the import ban in place on the key poultry feed since the beginning of this year. To this effect, the government has decided to allocate an additional 30,000 hectares of arable lands to cultivate maize, increasing the total extent of the lands used for maize cultivation to 110,000 hectares.
The government aims to cultivate the entire land bank assigned for maize by the end of 2021, which will generate a yield sufficient
to meet the entire local demand.
The decision was taken at the meeting held at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday to discuss future plans of the State Ministry of Development of Minor Crops including Sugarcane, Maize, Cashew, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Betel Related Industries and Export Promotion. Janaka Wakkumbura
holds the ministerial portfolio.
Sri Lanka’s annual maize requirement is 600,000 metric tonnes, of which the local produce meets only 250,000 metric tonnes with the balance 350,000 having to be imported, mostly from India and Ukraine. While the poultry feed requirement is around 400,000 metric tonnes, the dairy sector consumes another 200,000 metric tonnes of maize as cattle feed.
Last week, the All Island Poultry Association of Sri Lanka renewed calls to reconsider the import ban on maize as the sector had been forced to use substitutes to maize and as a result it had pushed up their cost of production as substitutes require vitamins and minerals from outside to ensure the similar or
near nutritional level to that of maize.
During August, prices of eggs and chicken rose in the Colombo district, according to the Colombo Consumer Price Index. Another problem ailing the maize industry is the middlemen operating as mafia purchase the crop from the maize farmer at an average price of Rs.40 a kilogram, but these are re-sold to the poultry farmer at prices ranging from Rs.65 to 85 a kilogram, retaining a mammoth profit.
Seventy percent of the cost of poultry farming is poultry feed made from maize.
While ratcheting up the domestic production, eliminating this mafia of middlemen from exploiting both the maize farmer as well as the poultry producer should also remain a top priority for the government in order to ensure full benefits are yielded to the end consumer.