The ongoing drought that has parched several parts of the country has placed many poultry farmers in a difficult situation forcing them to opt for early culling of the birds in a bid to ward off heavy losses, the industry and officials said yesterday.
Many farmers in the poultry breeding regions, particular in the Kurunegala and Kuliyapitiya areas have begun slaughtering birds, some in the early stages of laying, for lack of water as their wells had run dry, they said.
As a result the prices of eggs and poultry meat is set for a steep increase in the coming days should the current drought persist, they added.
The poultry farmers are facing a dilemma for the first time after their water reserves have dried up while the drought continues to affect several areas in the country.
Faisal Mohamed with Cris Brothers, one of the single largest stake holders in the poultry trade, told the Sunday Times that the sale of chicks to the farmers has reduced by some 40 per cent over the past one month and the decline is continuing.
He said more and more regular poultry farmers who purchased some 50, 000 chicks on a weekly average are no longer interested since they have no water to feed the birds and the market is taking a free fall.
He added that the prices of poultry products will definitely increase by several fold should the current dry weather pattern continue because farmers will put on hold further projects.
The bulk of poultry farming is done in the Kurunegala, Kuliyapitiya and Mahiyangana areas and the farmers in these regions have already slashed some 50 per cent of their production, Mr. Mohamed added.
“At the moment we have not been affected although the heat is on but we are expecting the worse should the weather remain unchanged,” Lalith Pathirana of Maxies Ltd. said.
He said the company had its own farms that were equipped with large deep tube wells, so as a result there was no adverse impact as yet.
“But things could change should the ground water dry up with the persistent heat,” he warned.
However he added that a section of the contract farmers of the company had put a temporary hold on their farms owing to the water crisis that is currently being felt in the Puttalam District.
The authorities concede that there was a huge crisis looming ahead for the industry but added that there was nothing one could do since it was a nature oriented issue.
However some of the big time farmers have also themselves to blame for part of the crisis, A. C. H. Munaweera, General Manager of the LiveStock Development Board said.
“These big entrepreneurs should have thought of a back up system, like relying on another source of water.
They should always anticipate sudden weather changes, which they have not done in this case,” he said.
He said an action plan was being drawn up by the relevant authorities but stopped short of giving details since there were others involved in it.
Meanwhile a Meteorology Department official warned yesterday there would be little or no rain until the end of this month owing to the failure of the south-west monsoon which is long over due.
“The present weather is not only affecting the country but the whole of South Asia he added and except for a few scattered showers over the hydropower catchment areas in the hilly regions there will be little or no rain in other parts for the country,” Senior Meteorologist Meryl Mendis said.
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