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DateLine Sunday, 19 August 2007

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Over 2,000 farmers to produce 15,000 mt of maize annually Lanka to save Rs. 3.2 b in forex

CIC Agri Businesses signed agreements last week with over 2,000 farmers in the North Central Province to produce 15,000 mt of maize annually for the next five years which will save Rs 3.2 billion in foreign exchange.

Currently around 150,000mt of maize is imported to supplement the local maize production which is around 30,000 to 40,000 mt per year. The country's annual requirement of maize is 200,000 mt.

Maize is one of the main ingredients used in the animal feed industry. Sri Lanka needs around 500,000 mt of animal feed annually. Maize and soya beans are the two main ingredients used to produce animal feed.


A farmer anticipates a bountiful harvest in one of the maize farms in Anuradhapura.

Managing Director,CEO CIC Agri Businesses Keerthi Kotagama said Sri Lanka spends around US$ 30 million annually to import maize.

With the international market beginning to use maize for bio-fuel the world market prices for maize are expected to increase.

"The import of maize is a huge drain on the country's foreign exchange and the government has already taken measures to set up a task force on maize to increase production in the next few years", he said.

CIC Agri Businesses will encourage farmers in the NCP to cultivate maize during the forthcoming Maha season. The company has already identified farmers and signed agreements for the project. The company has agreed to buy a kilogram of maize at Rs. 20 from the farmers.

Director, Seed Business, CIC Agri Businesses Waruna Madawanarachchi said with the rapid development in the poultry industry in Sri Lanka over the last couple of years and the active involvement of the private sector the demand for poultry feed has increased.

"With the expansion of the poultry industry the demand for maize has grown and it has become a popular food item among consumers in the green cob form.

Immature pods are boiled and eaten and the consumption pattern is popular among all sectors. Maize is also purchased by food producers at a premium price to produce high nutrient food such as Thriposha. Maize is grown in Anuradhapura, Moneragala, Badulla and Ampara which is known as the maize belt.

The cultivation is confined to the Maha-season (September to March) as a rainfed crop in the highlands. A smaller quantity is grown during the Yala season.

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***

Local maize production and quantity imported during the past four years.

Year Local Production Quantity Imported (Tons) (Tons)

2002 26,420 94,595

2003 29,645 136,690

2004 35,200 148,860

2005 41,800 146,930

 

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