Egg prices expected to drop, imports unnecessary from next year – Minister

Mahinda Amaraweera

Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Amaraweera has assured that egg and chicken prices are likely to decrease next year and remain stable thereafter.

Additionally, he confirmed that there will be no need for egg imports from next year.

He made these remarks on Thursday (September 14), speaking at a news conference organized by the Presidential Media Centre (PMC) under the theme ‘Collective Path to a Stable Country’.

Minister Amaraweera highlighted that the country’s poultry and egg production industry, despite being self-sufficient, experienced a decline due to reduced animal feed production caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis.

At present, the entire poultry and egg production for the nation is handled by the private sector, with the total chicken population across all farms exceeding 3,420,000, he added.

“It’s worth noting that most of these chickens are expected to start laying eggs by December and industrialists anticipate a significant increase in egg production in the country after that period. We also gave these industrialists the opportunity to import maize for the production of feed required for the poultry industry. Customers will also benefit from it in the future”.

The Mid-term Livestock Development Program allocated Rs. 37 million to enhance livestock services in the Northern Province, the minister said.

Furthermore, the Small- and Medium-Scale Poultry Development Project, which focuses on producing one-day-old country chicken chicks, boosting egg production in rural areas and improving nutrition, has received funding of Rs. 48 million.

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis, the country’s annual chicken meat production stood at 230,000 metric tons, resulting in a per capita chicken meat consumption of 11 kg per year, the minister explained, noting that, however, recent economic challenges and the impact of pandemic situation have caused a 30% reduction in local chicken meat production.

The President’s Media Division (PMD) says industrialists are optimistic that the production of chicken meat in the country can rebound to pre-crisis levels by the end of this year, thanks to the significant addition of broiler chickens to farms. Consequently, it is expected that the prices of chicken and eggs will continue to decrease.

The Ministry of Agriculture says it has prioritized livestock development in the country and has initiated various programs to support this effort. These measures include promoting small- and medium-scale farms, stimulating production, encouraging meat and egg exports, importing high-quality calves, developing and preserving grasslands and boosting animal feed production.

Currently, the daily egg requirement in the country stands at 7 million eggs, the PMD said further. However, egg production has decreased by 50% following the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis.

The main factors contributing to the decline in egg and chicken meat production include a decrease in animal feed production, a shortage of foreign exchange for importing animal feed and reduced local maize production. Nevertheless, there is currently an upward trend in chicken meat and egg production in the poultry industry. Recent data shows that approximately 6 million eggs are being supplied daily, leaving a current shortage of around 1 million eggs per day.

However, it is anticipated that this deficit can be addressed over the next three months.

To achieve self-sufficiency in milk production, both short and long-term plans have been devised. A five-year plan known as the National Dairy Policy, spanning from 2023 to 2028 has been formulated to work towards this goal.

It is worth noting that in 2021, Sri Lanka imported a total of 82,087 metric tons of milk and milk-related products, indicating a reliance on imports to meet domestic demand.

Also, 1670 beneficiaries will be provided facilities for the cultivation and conservation of grass and fodder as activities to increase productivity through the management of small and medium-scale dairy farms and 6 fodder and fodder processing centres will be set up.

“We also hope to improve 09 breeding farms belonging to the Provincial Animal Production and Health Department as well as to improve private breeding farm centres”.

The National Artificial Insemination Service has produced and distributed 40,000 heifers to the cattle population and 164,836 cow sperms per year.

Under this project implemented with the Board of Investment, 12,000 high-quality milk cows will be deployed in the field and the annual production will be 75 million litres of milk.

A large-scale animal production farm was started at the Polonnaruwa Farm belonging to the National Livestock Development Board. The amount spent on it is around Rs. 250 million.

(President’s Media)