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Part IV Country Papers (Contd.)


Shim Kim Fah*


Singapore is an island country with an area of about 620.5 km2 (216.7 mi2) and a population of more than 2.5 million. The city is highly urbanized with its main economic emphases on trade, industry and harbour services. Animal husbandry activities in the country is, therefore, confined to the raising of pigs and poultry for local consumption. Small numbers of cattle, goat, duck and quail are also produced. With a highly intensive animal production system, Singapore is able to be fully self-sufficient in pork and chicken eggs and 79 percent self-sufficient in poultry.

* Department of Zoology, National University of Singapore.


Singapore has limited land resources. With industrialization, urbanization and water conservation making increasing demands on land resources, the limited land in Singapore available for farming has diminished. In 1972, there were 17,663 farms and 13,010 ha of available farmland. At the end of 1980, there were 11,604 licensed farms occupying an area of 8,093 ha. Under such constraints, intensive farming aimed at maximizing production on land available has to be practiced. Over the years, small farm holders who were not as efficient as larger farms have been gradually phased out. In 1985, the number of farms and farmland area fell to 6,618 and 4,718 ha, respectively. The farms of a subsistence nature are being replaced by larger farms adopting more modern methods of production. The type of farming practiced in Singapore is mainly pig and poultry rearing, vegetable and orchid cultivation and food fish and ornamental fish production. Such forms of farming do not require extensive land and can, therefore, be made very intensive. The pig industry in Singapore has been producing more than a million head a year during the 1970s. The success of pig production in Singapore is due to several factors: i) intensive large-scale pig farming on small plots of land; ii) effective disease control; iii) increased production through better management; and iv) adaptability of farmers.

Pigs are produced mainly in two areas in Singapore; the Ponggol Pig Farming Estate and the Lim Chu Kang Farming Estate. The development of the intensive pig culture in Ponggol area was based on the original measures taken by the Government to overcome the problems associated with pig farming in land scarce Singapore. The Ponggol Pig Farming Estate is one of the most intensively farmed areas in the world. It is unique in that in an area of 398 ha there are 210 farms with a total of 500,000 head of pigs.

The original plan of the government was to convert small farms into large ones to be concentrated mainly in Ponggol. The target was 70 commercial farms with a population of 650,000 head of pigs by the end of 1986. Due to scarcity of land, the pig farms are unavoidably located too close to densely populated residential areas. Water wastage is another problem of pig rearing because 30 to 40 litres of water is needed a day to wash the pig waste into cesspits and treatment plants. For the total 650,000 head of pigs, 18–28 million litres of water a day will be flashed into the drain. Unfortunately, water is a very precious commodity in Singapore and pig farming is a highly polluting industry. The biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) for a litre of raw pig waste is 4,000 mg which is 16 times higher than the raw human waste (250 mg/litre). A pig produces five times as much waste as a human being. A total cost of s$80 million has been estimated to reduce cost of treatment of levels substantially below this would make pig farming uneconomic. the government finally decided in 1984 to phase out pig farming in Singapore and to import live pigs and frozen pork instead. It is possible to supply the entire pork requirements through imports, probably at a lower cost to the Singapore consumer. The Republic's per capita meat consumption of about 70 kg per annum (1984) is among the highest in Asia.


Land is a scarce and precious resource in Singapore with many competing demands. Of the 620.5 km2 total land area in Singapore, half of it is occupied by build-up areas which include housing, commercial and industrial sites. Only 7.6 percent of the land are allocated for farming activities (Table 1). There was a reduction of farm land over the years to make way for urban/industrial development. The total agricultural land has been reduced to nearly one-third from 12,140 ha in 1970 to 4,718 ha in 1985 (Table 2).

At the end of 1985, there were 6,168 licensed farms occupying an area of 4,718 ha compared to 15,616 farms on 10,588 ha of land in 1975. In Singapore, all the entire cultivated land is geared towards the production of food for human consumption. What crops or livestock can be grown in Singapore is limited by economic and land constraints. For example, the country is 100-percent dependent on foreign rice, for large areas of land for rice cultivation are not available. Crops like grain, pulses, root and fodder crops are of practically no significance in Singapore because of limited land area. The same applies to grassland, rough permanent pastures and meadows. The arable land is mainly for fruits and vegetable cultivation for human consumption. The land allocated for fodder grass was 80 ha in 1970 and has been reduced to practically none in 1985. The cultivation of grain crops paddy, wheat, buckwheat, barley, oat, sorghum, millet and others) and pulses (beans, peas, grams and others) has never been practiced in Singapore. Although some root crops (sweet potato and taro) have been produced, they are meant for human consumption and are not available as animal feeds. Most of the fodder crops (maize, sorghum, millet, barley, clover, oat, etc.) and oil crops (rapeseed, soybean, groundnut, sesame, etc.) are not grown in Singapore.

Table 1. Land Use

ItemArea (km 2)Percent in Usage
Built-in areas (including new industrial sites)298.8  48.1  
Farm holding areas (of licensed farms, excluding land occupied by pure rubber and coconut plantations)47.17.6
Marsh and tidal waste18.53.0
Other (inland waters, open spaces, public gardens, cemeteries, non-built-up areas in military establishments, quarries, rubber and coconut plantations, and unused land)227.5  36.7  
Total land area (main island and offshore islets)620.5  100.0   

Table 2. Distribution of Licensed Farms and Available Farmland

YearLicensed FarmsArea
Value of Farm Produce
(S$ million)

* Estimated figures

Sugarcane and coconuts are produced locally but they are not grown on any large scale and are for human consumption only. The vegetables produced in Singapore are mainly “cal xin” (Brassica chinensis), “gal lan” (Brassica alboglabra), “weng cal” or kangkong (Ipomoea sp.), “xian cal” or “bayam” (Amaranthus sp), Chinese cabbage, Chinese chives, watercress, bean sprout, lettuce, long bean and cucumber. The local production of vegetables was about 28,150 mt in 1985, which only contributed 15 percent of the total consumption in Singapore. The remaining 85 percent of vegetable consumed were imported from Malaysia, China, Indonesia, Australia and other neighbouring countries.

The fruit tree plantations in Singapore are usually small, about an acre or so. The fruits are mostly “rambutan” (Nephelium), durian (Durio), mangoes (Mangifera), and mangosteens (Garcinia). Singapore produced 18,140 mt of fruits locally and contributed only 11.2 percent of the nation's needs. Most of the fruits were imported from Peninsular Malaysia and other countries. The probability that these fruit tree plantations will be eventually phased out in land-scarce Singapore is very high. At the Demonstration Farm in Lim Chu Kang, fruit tree saplings of over 30 types are raised for distribution to government institutions and for sale to the public. Thousands of fruit trees have been planted over the years in open spaces, schools, parks, camps and housing estates on the annual Tree Planting Day. Our dependence on foreign fruits for the future seems inevitable but our self-sufficiency can, and should be improved.


In the early 1970s a few head of cattle and goat were reared by small farmers. The fodder fed to the animals were gathered from nature. Permanent pastures or meadows have never been cultivated in Singapore. The cattle, sheep, and goats slaughtered at abattoirs are mainly imported from neighbouring countries. In 1973, 4,526 mt of beef and 5,156 mt of mutton were consumed by Singaporeans, but the local production of cattle and goats were only 2,100 and 2,500 head, respectively.

Non-conventional type of feed such as the leaves of Leucaena leucocephala, although widely grown in many tropical countries, is not very common in Singapore. The aquatic plants like the water hyacinth, azolla, and blue-green algae have never been used as feed for hog or poultry either. Some experiments have been carried out to recycle chicken manure as animal feed, but they have never been practiced in large-scale commercial rearing.


Animal feed production in Singapore is unique in the sense that it uses no domestic raw materials. Singapore has to import all her feed ingredients from abroad. Feed stuffs are imported from all over the world depending on their availability and price.

There is a considerable increase in the trading of raw feed materials from 1970 to 1980 (Figure 1). The import of animal feeding stuffs has increased from S$91,189,000 in 1970 to S$238,667,000 in 1980. This represents a drastic increase of 161.7 percent in the amount imported. The export of feed stuffs was even greater: an increase of 109.7 percent from 1970 (S$66,407,000) to 1980 (S$205,999,000). It is noted that there was a considerable drop in the quantity imported and a drastic increase in the value exported during the period 1973 to 1975. In 1974, the value exported was even higher than the value imported. This may be due to inflation in costs of the feeding stuffs caused by the oil crisis.

The feed industry of Singapore has also been affected by the world recession during recent years. The values of total imported and exported feedstuffs have been reduced to S$109,061,000 and S$83,808,000, respectively, in 1985. The commodities imported ranged from some of the more common feed stuffs such as maize, soybean cake, wheat bran, rice bran, flours and meals of fish, flours and meal of meat and offals and creaves, sorghum, palm nut and kernel cake, coconut cake, groundnut cake, etc. to some of the less important ingredients such as millet, oat, rice, sunflower seed cake, rape or colza seed cake, cocoa shells, husks, skins and waste, etc. (Table 3). Similar products re=exported to neighbouring countries accounted for S$83,808,000 in 1985 (Table 4).

The most important imported feedstuff is maize which is the most commonly used raw material for feeding pigs and poultry in Singapore. It is so popular that local farmers frequently equate the quality of a ration with the visible maize content in it. The inherent qualities that make it most suitable as a raw material in compounded rations are its: i) high palatability; ii) high energy content/digestibility; iii) carotene content; and iv) xanthophyll content (mainly relevant in poultry feeds).

Ground maize is not dusty and this characteristic enhances its palatability to poultry and pigs. Maize is low in crude fiber, comparatively high in fat and the nitrogen-free-extract (NFE) is mainly starch. These characteristics rank maize high among feeds as a source of digestible nutrients and available energy. The carotene content in the yellow maize provides a source of vitamin A to livestock. Yellow colour in the skin, shanks, egg yolk and body fat of chickens is due mainly to the presence of xanthophyll in the ingested ration. The local market preference is for well pigmented broilers. Eggs with pale coloured yolks are not well accepted. These demands enhance the importance of maize as a raw materials in compound rations production in Singapore.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Total Imports and Exports of Animal Feedstuffs

Table 3. Animal Feedstuffs Importation, 1985

Value in S$  
Thousand CIF
Maize (unmilled)454,433116,220
Oat (unmilled)807292
Rice milled whole for animal feeding2815
Wheat bran49,32811,871
Rice bran43,6425,848
Fodder roots hay and similar forage products12,6853,208
Maize bran3,517737
Cereal straw and husks1,814780
Soybean cake108,58138,177
Groundnut cake3,302976
Sunflower seed cake1,653551
Rape or colza seed cake1,290330
Coconut cake30043
Other oil-cakes11,8213,715
Flours and meals of fish crustaceans or molluscs38,83027,742
Flours and meal of meat and offals and creaves5,7473,209
Cocoa shells husk skins and waste213637
Beet-pulp bagasse and other waste of sugar MFS brewing and distrilling dregs and waste residues of starch MFS2,435363
Poultry complete feeds2249
Swine complete feeds74109
Other animals' complete feeds134199
Feed supplements23,55411,939
Other animal feeding stuffs including fish feed and dog biscuit3,8027,252

Table 4. Animal Feedstuffs Exportation, 1985

Value in S$  
Thousand FOB
Maize (unmilled)108,97832,579
Oat (unmilled)18894
Fodder roots hay and similar forage products3,4021,171
Cereal straw and husks409251
Other vegetable products for animal feed35861
Wheat bran69,62519,247
Rice bran20,0433,782
Bran and sharps of other cereals16327
Maize bran4316
Bran and sharps of leguminous vegetables1--
Soybean cake28,76112,305
Coconut cake9,7482,174
Groundnut cake1,816639
Sunflower seed cake983261
Cotton seed cake23156
Palm nut and kernel cake214
Linseed cake1--
Other oil-cakes3,7941,360
Flours and meals of fish crustaceans or molluscs8,8747,302
Flours and meal or meat and offals and creaves2,4321,388
Cocoa shells husks skins and waste1,762812
Beet-pulp bagasse and other waste of sugar MFS brewing and distilling dregs and waste residues of starch MFS3,805693
Poultry complete feeds20,16913,043
Swine complete feeds3,9572,604
Other animals complete feeds274194
Feed supplements4,60214,254
Other animal feeding stuffs, including fish feed and dog biscuit1,6812,164

Maize is the most common grain imported for animal feed industry. A total of 454,533 mt valued at S$116,220,000 was imported in 1985, which accounted for 57.9 percent of the total importation of animal feedstuffs. Much of the maize importation (351,294 mt) came from Thailand which provided 77.3 percent of maize required by Singapore (Table 5). This is followed by the Peoples' Republic of China. About 35,871 mt of maize worth S$10,058,000 were imported from China in 1985. This represented 7.9 percent of the total maize were imported in that year. Much smaller amounted of maize were imported from the People's Republic of Vietnam, Burma, Argentina, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Peninsular Malaysia, USA and Australia. Almost 92.0 percent of the total export of maize went to Peninsular Malaysia last year, while a small amount of its was exported to Brunei, Sabah, Sarawak and Sri Lanka (Table 6).

Fish meal is the most important animal protein supplement used in ration formulation. The total import of fish meal in 1985 was 38,830 mt or S$27,742,000 (Table 7). Thailand provided about 70.4 percent of the total imported fish meal in 1986, while Peninsular Malaysia and Chile provided 8.3 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively, of the total imported fish meal. The rest were imported from Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Japan.

Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak imported 60.0 percent and 21.5 percent of the total export of fish meal from Singapore in 1985 (Table 8). The other countries of destination of fish meal exported last year were Sabah, Brunei and Australia, in that order. The total export of fish meal was 8.874 mt valued at S$7,302,000.

Singapore also imported and exported considerable quantity of feed supplements such as vitamins, provitamins, antibiotics, etc. The total feed supplements imported in 1985 was 23,554 mt at a cost of S$11,939,000. The export of feed supplements at the same period amounted to 4,602 mt valued at S$14,254,000.


Crop residues and industrial by-products in Singapore are limited. The availability of the various food-byproducts is summarized in Table 9. They come mainly from the beer brewery factories which contributed 6,000 mt/month of food wastes. The rest came from the soft drink and chocolate factories and fish processing plants. Large quantities of palm oil sludge are produced in Malaysia and they are available for import (Nglam, 1985).

Research work on the use of industrial by-products for animal feed have been carried out in the Pig and Poultry Research and Training Institute, Sembawang Field Experimental Station. The growth characteristics and problems associated with the mass culture of Moina sp. (water flea), meal worm (larvae of Tenebrio molitor), bloodworm (larvae of Chironomus costatus) and tubifex worms for pet animals have also been studied.

Table 5. Maize (unmilled) Importation, 1985

Country of OriginQuantity
PercentValue in S$  
Thousand CIF
Peoples' Rep. of China35,8717.910,058
Vietnam, Soc. Rep. of30,8006.88,671
New Zealand9,0002.02,877
Hong Kong2,4330.5749
Peninsular Malaysia5560.1185
U. S. A.53085

Table 6. Maize (unmilled) Exportation, 1985

Country of OriginQuantity
PercentValue in S$  
Thousand FOB
Peninsular Malaysia100,26192.029,781
Sri Lanka, Rep. of1,0060.9390

Table 7. Fish Meal and Flour Importation, 1985

Country of OriginQuantity
PercentValue in S$  
Thousand CIF
Peninsular Malaysia3,2388.31,373
United Kingdom380.141
Other countries380.140

Table 8. Fish meal and Flour Exportation, 1985

Country of OriginQuantity
PercentValue in S$  
Thousand FOB
Peninsular Malaysia5,14558.14,378

Feeding trials have been carried out with fish silage and palm oil sludge on pig rearing. It was found that pigs readily accepted the feed with 6 percent fish silage. Its feed conversion was also good. The inclusion of 20 percent palm oil sludge in pig feed caused constipation in the pigs. Even though the palm oil sludge has a fragrant smell, it is not readily accepted by the pigs.


One of the major factors behind the success of a highly intensive animal industry is the establishment of a series of modern feedmills of various sizes in Singapore. Thirty-six animal feedmills were licensed under the Feeding Ordinance (1966) in 1970). The largest feedmill, Gold Coin Co., claims to have an output of over 10,000 mt of prepared feeds per month while the medium ones (Malaysia Feedmill Ltd., Sin Heng chan Pte. Ltd., Chia Tai Feedmill Pte. Ltd., etc.) have an output of some 3,000 to 6,000 mt per month. The smaller ones (Singapore Fodder Co., Ltd.) produce around 1,000 to 2,000 mt of feed per month and the smallest ones (Joo Huat Co.) produce less than 500 mt per month.

Most of the large feedmills are blessed by their prime location in the vicinity of the Jurong Port. The factories in this area are served directly by the Port where shiploads of raw feed materials imported from foreign countries are pumped directly from the cargo ships to the silos for storage. Some of the feedmills are also served by roads and railways from Peninsular Malaysia.

Some of the large feedmills have very good laboratory facility for quality control of the incoming feedstuff ingredients and for the finished products. The chemical composition of feed ingredients imported is analyzed before they are formulated by the computer into various animal feeds. The major criteria of analysis are: crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber, ash, amino acids and their gross energy value. While most of the feeds are formulated according to the nutritional needs of the animals for optimal growth and reproduction, there is also a considerable fluctuation in the ingredients used to make up the rations. The variation in the type and amount of ingredients used in a ration depends mostly on the availability and the price of the ingredient at the time of formulation.

The difficult problem of selecting the exact feed ingredients in the proper quantities to provide all the nutrients needed for maximum production at least cost is markedly aided by the use of computerized linear programming. This is especially important when the feed manufacturer has available many feed ingredients and the prices of many of the ingredients may vary considerably. The time required to keep formulations abreast of changing ingredient prices has been greatly reduced by the use of the computer for feed formulation. Most commercial feed manufacturers in Singapore possess such computers to increase the efficiency of feed production.

Most major feedmills possess subsidiary farms where feeding trials can be carried out before some of the formula are being converted into feeds. The Primary Production Department's Animal Nutrition Section of the Pig and Poultry Research and Training Institute in Sembawang carries out research into the requirements by local animals and makes recommendations to the farmers as well as the feedmillers.


The government arm responsible for the field of animal and feed industries is the Veterinary Division of the Primary Production Department (PPD). The commercial feed millers have to register their private companies with the Primary Production Department under the Feeding Stuff Ordinance, 1966. In order to prevent adulteration and to assure the quality and safety of commercial feeds, the final products from the feedmills are properly labeled. The nutrients content in the feed are clearly stated on the labels, and the Animal Nutrition Unit of Primary Production Department conducts routine inspection and carry out laboratory analysis to ensure that the feed specifications are guaranteed.

Since Singapore is a free port, the government does not help to stabilize the supply-demand situation and prices for feeds by means of legal regulation. No direct intervention in the commercial transactions and financial assistance to market rationalization is given.

The Pig and Poultry Research and Training Institute of Primary Production Department is responsible for carrying out research work for animal and animal feed production in Singapore. The farm school conducts one-year training courses for farm youths in three specialized fields viz. i) animal husbandry; ii) horticulture and vegetable gardening; and iii) fresh-water fisheries and aquarium fish, in Sembawang Station. Emphasis was laid on practical training and attachment to private farms, nurseries, aquarium fish-breeding farms and related enterprises was a vital part of the training programme.

Some academic staffs in the Department of Zoology, National University of Singapore are also involved in the research of animal production on the utilization of food waste materials, granted by an ASEAN-Australian Economic Cooperation Programme.

Table 9. Availability of Food Waste

Food WasteSourceQuantity Available
Malt spent grainsBeer breweries6,000  
Soybean wasteSoft drink factories
cocoa shell powderChocolage factory
Fish wasteFish processing plant
Palm oil sludge**

* Large quantities are available from Peninsular Malaysia.

Table 10. Total Imports and Exports of Animal Feedstuffs

YearTotal Imports CIFTotal Exports FOB


Animal feed production in Singapore is different from the neighbouring countries because she has no raw materials of her own. All the feed ingredients are imported from abroad according to the need of the market. Since the government has decided to phase out the pig rearing in the country, and the number of farm continues to diminish, the need for animal feeds will inevitably decline. As a result, the import of feed stuffs will also be reduced.


Land is a scarce and precious resource in Singapore. Farming activities continue to decline. Despite this, the farming sector in Singapore produced an estimated S$576.16 million worth of farm produce, with the output, including 1,032,990 head of pigs, 21,441,600 chickens, 6,495,000 ducks, 407,769,000 hens' eggs, 28,150 mt of vegetables, and 23,030 mt of fish in 1985. The Republic is not self-sufficient in any of these primary products. Last year, for example, Singaporeans consumed 60 percent more chickens, 25 percent more eggs, 75 percent more fish and 85 percent more vegetables than what local farms produced. Singapore has to go into accelerated development to meet a shortfall in primary production. There are at present 5,000 farms on 4,000 ha of land but, by 1995, only 2,000 ha will be available for farming as a result of clearance for other development. In order to reduce Singapore reliance on imports and help to make it acentre from which sophisticated farming expertise and technology can be exported to countries in the region, the government has to launch an accelerated high-tech farming programme. About 2,000 ha of agricultural land will be turned into agrotechnology parks in the next decade. It is essentially the use of technology to maximize output from a given area of land. These parks will also serve as learning stations and tourists spots. The Primary Production Department has in its layout of the farms ensured a good mix of fish, poultry, fruit trees, and orchid farms. The parks are designed for ecological balance and will be aesthetically pleasing. agrotechnology includes genetic selection and breeding of poultry, growing crops in a controlled environment and using computers in fisheries to haul nets and distribute feed. The farms will help the country to maintain its primary production at 80 percent of the current value of S$470 million. A total of S$380 million in capital investment will be pumped in over seven years. The PPD will help to clear the land and provide essential services such as water, electricity, drainage and road links. Some 120 ha of land in Sengei Tengah, Maural and Loyang have been tendered on 4 September 1986, and another 130 ha will be offered by the end of the year for similar projects.

During the next decade the traditional ways of farming will disappear completely from Singapore and will be replaced with highly sophisticated agrotechnoological parks.


Ministry of National Development Annual Report (1975–1985).

Ngiam, T.T. (1985). Report on the technology of animal feed production utilizing food waste materials. In: Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Technology of Animal Feed Production Utilizing Food Waste Materials, pp. 93–97.

Primary Production Department Annual Report (1970–1974).

Singapore Facts and Figures (1986).

Trade Statistics of Singapore: Import and Export (1970–1985).


Athula Chandrasiri1


Sri Lanka is a tropical island situated in the Indian Ocean between the latitudes of 7' and 9' north of the Equator. As a result of its proximity to the equator, basically tropical climatic conditions prevail. The country covers an area of about 65,600 km2 and has a total population of over 16 million people. Despite the size of the country, different climatic conditions can be experienced within a matter of a few hours of travel from one specific point to another. The average annual rainfall varies from 900 mm to about 5,000 mm. The country gets rains mainly from two monsoons, the southwest monsoon from mid April to September and the northeast monsoon from November to March.

Per capital income in 1986 was US$354 which in real terms is estimated to have increased by 2.7 percent over the previous year. In the global context, Sri Lanka falls into the category of low per capita income group countries ($250–449) which show low per capita consumption rates of livestock and poultry products.

Agriculture plays a dominant role in the Sri Lankan economy, not only accounting for the largest segment of the Gross National Products (GNP), but also influencing the various aspects of the economy in diversified ways. According to the Census of Agriculture (1982) the area of agricultural land (1.97 million ha) represented just over 30 percent of the total land area (6.5 million ha). Over 70 percent of the population is rural and connected to agricultural activities directly or indirectly. The agricultural sector (including livestock and poultry) accounts for 26.1 percent (1986) of the Sri Lanka's GNP. The overall contribution of the livestock sub-sector to the gross value of agricultural production is about 8 percent, but when the unaccounted value of draft power, manure, hides and kins is taken into consideration, it has to be increased at least up to 12 percent. Yet the contribution is not at all satisfactory when compared with some of the other Asian countries with similar geographical, economic and climatic conditions. Hence, the importance and the potential of livestock in the economy can be considered as quite distinct and large.

1 Deputy Director/Head, Marketing and Food Policy Division, Agrarian Research and Training Institute (ARTI), Colombo.

As a positive response to this situation a separate ministry, the Ministry of Rural Industrial Development, was created by the government in 1978, with the responsibility of developing the livestock and poultry sectors, inter alia. Until then the subject of animal husbandry was handled by a division under the Ministry of Agriculture.

Basically the livestock sector in Sri Lanka appeared to be an integral part of the crop farming system except for pig rearing and poultry keeping where specialized units exist. In agriculture almost the entire concentration was on the development of crop and plantation sectors. Only a small fraction was invested in the livestock sector when compared to other areas indicated above. However, during the 1970s the trend changed and several livestock development projects worth approximately US$18 million were commenced. In the 1980s this trend moved further forward, and programmes to the tune of about US$148 million were launched.

Trends in Animal Population

Sri Lanka is a country with small livestock and poultry farmers. This point is demonstrated by the fact that 93 percent of the cattle are raised by the small land holders who own less than 2 ha or bah landless estate labourers. The percentage contributions from the small holding sector to other areas are, buffaloes 97 percent, goats 86 percent, pigs 78 percent and poultry 83 percent. According to the Census of Agriculture (1982) about 3 million head of livestock were recorded. The total livestock population comprises about 86 percent. Cattle (62 percent) and buffaloes (25 percent), 13 percent goats and the balance 1 percent pigs. This shows how cattle and buffaloes predominate Sri Lanka's livestock sector.

Dairy development and poultry keeping are the most popular and concentrated animal husbandry activities in the country. Of the 25 foreign-funded livestock development projects which were/are being operated from 1975, at least 20 are connected with the dairy sector. Cattle and buffalo raising is very close to the nation's culture and the traditional agricultural society. Cattle and buffalo are the main sources of supply of draft power, beef, milk, hides and skin and manure.

Of the total cattle and buffalo population the majority was local. There were 91.7 percent local cattle, 6.3 percent cross bred and 2.0 percent high-bred. In the case of buffaloes local composition was high as much as 95.3 percent and only 2.9 percent cross bred and 1.8 percent high-bred.

Poultry keeping is widespread in the country and the indications are that it has become more and more popular during the past few years as a source of supply of animal protein (both eggs and poultry meat) to the people, especially under the condition of short supply of fish and the increased prices of beef. Until about the last two decades, commercial poultry keeping was a totally new activity to Sri Lanka. Eggs have been imported from India and only the low productive backyard poultries were in existence.

The Government (Department of Animal Production and Health) as well as private companies acting as franchise agents import parent stocks from countries such as Holland, U.S., and U.K. and sell day-old chicks. As statistics shows, rearing of pigs, goats, and sheep is not very popular in Sri Lanka and has not spread to the same extent as the cattle and poultry industries over the years. The majority of the swine and goat populations is reared in backyards with minimum of care.

According to published statistics, it appears that agro-ecological conditions have largely influenced the distribution of the livestock industry. Since buffaloes are still the main supply source of draft power for agriculture, the correlation between the leading paddy producing districts and the concentration of cattle/buffalo rearing is very high. Apart from the government managed farms of the Department of Animal Production and Health (22) and the National Livestock Development board (20), over 1.9 million holdings have been recorded in 1982 as having cattle and buffaloes. This is a clear indication of the scattered nature and the size of holdings. In the dry zone areas, where the majority of cattle/buffalo (over 60 percent of the total) is reared, the free grazing system is widely practiced and very little or no cost is involved in feeding. On the other hand, the availability of fodder/pasture in the wet zone almost throughout the year, encourages the livestock farmer to go for a more intensive type of farming.

As far as the poultry industry is concerned, two distinct systems can be seen in the country, viz. i) the traditional, low productive backyard system which involves minimal costs and ii) the high productive systematic, commercialized intensive method with a high cost component. It has been estimated that around 20 percent of the total poultry population falls in the category of backyard poultry keeping. Birds under this system are on free range while in the commercialized system the birds are raised systematically with maximum care and fed on recommended rations of provender feed.

The 1983 National Planning Division, Ministry of Finance and Planning shows the size and distribution of the poultry farms as follows.

Over 10,000

The growth of livestock sector is not quite satisfactory as shown by the animal population and animal origin of food production figures. But an exception could be witnessed in the poultry sector during the recent years, especially since 1984.

Table 1. Changes in Animal Population (1,000 head of birds)

Item197019711985Percent Change
Cattle1,5961,6921,782+ 11.6
Buffaloes736797967+ 31.3
Goats558545540- 3.2
Pigs1083684- 22.2
Poultry7,9177,58311,626+ 46.8
2,3762,0753,047+ 28.2
1,2001,2001,500+ 25.0
Other poultry
3,3052,5692,579- 21.9

Source: Department of Census and Statistics, Boiler production figures were gathered from leading franchise agents.

Table 2. Production of Animal Protein Food

Item19701984Percent Change
Milk (1,000 kl) (both cow and buffalo)      159.6        335.0+ 109.8
Eggs (millions)     431.0        561.0 
 (24,438.6mt)            (31,583.1 mt)
Mutton (mt)  1,302.1    1,506.5+  15.6
Beef (mt)16,383.9  13,563.5-   17.2
Pork (mt)     671.2       694.2+    3.4
Chicken (including broilers, mt)  7,110.0111,660.0+  63.9

Source: Department of Census and Statistics, Agrarian Research and Training Institute.

The egg production in 1986 estimated at 667 million. This was an increase of 8 percent over that of the previous year.

Between 1970 and 1985 the cattle and buffalo population has shown only a little increase while a negative change was seen in regard to goats and pigs. According to the Ministry of Rural Industrial Development, the contributing factors for the slow growth in the cattle and buffalo population are as follows: “i) low farm gate prices in relation to ever-increasing production costs; ii) unfavourable market opportunities; iii) declining availability of natural pasture; and iv) the government regulatory policy on animal slaughter”2. On the contrary, a remarkable development can be seen in the poultry population, especially with regard to broilers during the last few years.

2 Livestock Development Strategy - Ministry of Rural Industrial Development, October 1985, p. 1.


The production of all animal protein foods has increased except beef during the period 1970–84. The increase in milk production is very significant: largely due to improvements in the supply and collection systems. From 1970 to 1984, milk prices increased on seven occasions. The purchasing price of the National Milk Board was increased from 0.63 Cts. (at 3.5 percent butter fat per litre) in 1970 to Rs. 2.95 in 1984. A further incentive was given to cattle farmers in September 1984 in order to encourage them to produce more milk. A system of varying prices was adopted depending on the fact content of milk. As a result, a farmer can get a higher price up to Rs. 7.45/litre depending on the fat content, on a sliding scale. This pricing policy must have pushed the farmers to concentrate more on milk production. Table 2 summarizes the position.

A new trend is seen in the development of the processed meat industry. A considerable amount of foreign as well as local capital has been invested and, consequently, processed meat varieties are freely available in urban markets. New machinery has bend imported leading to technological advances in this sector.

Another important change that has taken place in the poultry industry is the emergence of a few large-scale producers, modern machinery for evisceration of broilers has been imported; a considerable amount of capital has been invested and even foreign collaborative ventures are in operation. As a result, both egg and broiler meat supplies are on the increase and the demand for poultry products and thus the consumption pattern may have changed accordingly. This change has taken place mostly within the last four years or so. The new trend can bring adverse effects on thousands of small-scale poultry farmers scattered throughout the island if the few newly promoted large scale poultry farmers tend to obstruct the free market forces in operation by creasing artificial gluts and scarcities in the market for their own benefit.

Prices, Demand and Consumption

The entire quantity of livestock and poultry products can be considered as locally consumed as there is no export of these commodities. As mentioned earlier, the total consumption (production) has not changed significantly during the last 15 years except for milk, eggs and broiler meat to a certain extent. The change which has taken place may be within different income brackers or sector-wise and not for the nation as a whole.

The population of the country rose from 13 million in 1973 to 16.1 million in mid-1986. Statistics on production and consumption reveals that there is hardly any production increase, in general, in the livestock sector, to match the increased population. This may have necessitated the importation of processed and semi-processed meat, especially in the 1980s.

Over a ten-fold growth in the GNP over the period of 12 years since 1973, does not constitute an increase in real income for the people, in general, mainly due to inflation, population increase, low productivity and disproportionate income distribution.

The generally accepted notion is that when economies of the developing countries develop and per capita incomes increase, the use of cereals as a food, comes down and the demand for livestock (including poultry) products goes up. In other words, when income levels increase people tend to spend more on animal protein foods demonstrating a high income elasticity of demand for animal protein foods.

Income elasticities of demand for livestock products have been calculated by the FAO for Asia. They are: for meat 0.97, for milk 0.52, and for eggs 1.07. Once again, these elasticity figures quite clearly portray the peoples' desire for animal protein food and the positive relationship between income and consumption rates of livestock products.

According to the National Planning Division of the Ministry of Finance and Planning, the domestic demand for livestock products is growing rapidly. The market forecast will expand at a rate of over 10 percent annually. But both production and the animal population are not moving fast in order to absorb the growing demand. As a general principle the effective demand for livestock products can increase only on the growth of real income of the people because, as normally one cannot expect a decrease in prices of livestock or poultry products. Further, foods of animal origin are comparatively expensive.

In Sri Lanka when projections are made for livestock development special consideration has to be given to the cultural and religious norms of society. The consumption of animal flesh does not confirm to the religious and cultural norms of the majority of the population (Buddhists 69 percent, Hindus 16 percent). Therefore, though the livestock sector is a potential area for economic growth, in making decisions, priorities are determined by non-economics factors in certain areas.

The major economic factors influencing demand for livestock products are increases or decreases in per capita real incomes, variation in real prices, income elasticity of demand, urbanization, changes in tastes and preferences and the availability of supplies. Sri Lanka has maintained an economic growth rate of around 5 percent from 1980 to 1985.

An increase in the effective demand of the people would lead to a boost in production. In that connection, the income distribution pattern is very important. For example, with a small affluent class of people a country may be in a position to show high growth rates and per capita consumption levels. But that does not reflect a development on a sound footing and of stable characteristics.


With a rise in per capita incomes of the people in Asian countries (mostly developing) the demand for livestock and poultry products also will rise, perhaps, at a faster rate. In order to meet the increasing demand, production has to be accelerated. An assured supply of quality feed at affordable prices is a prerequisite for the development of livestock and poultry industries in any country. The productivity of the livestock and poultry industries depends on both the quality and quantity of feed.

Animal husbandry in Asia is characterized predominantly by backyard type of small-scale production units in rural areas and Sri Lanka is no exception. When it comes to the question of increasing production this may have to be changed gradually into economically viable units. But here again, supply of feed would be the main focus because, profitability in livestock production is governed mainly by the cost of feed. About 75 percent of the cost of egg production and around 80 percent of the cost of broiler production are cost of provender feeds. In the case of swine rearing, feed costs account for around 80 percent and in the dairy industry fed represents about 70 percent of the total cost. Therefore, the constraints in expanding and developing the livestock and poultry industries have often been referred to higher prices and inadequate supply of animal feed.

The picture would be more clear when the increase of prices of animal feed is taken into consideration. (Table 6). The major provender feed suppliers are the Ceylon Oils and Fats Corporation (government-owned) and the Ceylon Grain Elevators Limited (private sector-owned). These two organizations together are responsible for about 75 percent of the provender feed production of the country.

Table 3. Per Capita Consumption of Animal Products

Mutton a0.
Milk (cow)8.009.1510.1511.5911.0211.3111.4012.92
Milk (buffalo)N.A.3.233.463.733.494.094.314.33
Other milk foods0.692.382.031.481.502.341.741.89

Source: Department of Cenusus and Statistics, Food Balance Sheets.
Note: a Meat from goats and sheep.

Table 4. Rate of Economic Growth

YearGrowth Rat a
1980   5.6
1981   3.9)
1982   5.0)
1983   5.0)    4.77
1984   5.1)
1985   5.3)
1986   4.5)

Source: Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
Note: a GNP in real terms at constant factor cost prices.

Table 5. Production and Retail Price Trends of Animal Protein Foods, 1978–87

YearBeefPorkMuttonChickenEggsMilk (cow)
Average Price
Average Price
Average Price
Average Price
Average Price
(mil. ltr)
Average Price
            (Milk Board)

Source: Department of Census and Statistics, Ministry of Rural Industrial Development and Agrarian Research and Training Institute.


  1. Percentage increases in retail prices for beef, pork, mutton, chicken, eggs and milk were 239.5, 104.4, 117.1, 85.2, 66.6 and 552, respectively.

  2. 1987 data are provisional.

  3. Since 1985 the Ministry of Rural Industrial Development has streamlined the data collection base to obtain more accurate data. For example, arrangements have been made to obtain some of the information on slaughtering animals outside the registered slaughter-houses.

  4. Since 1984 the Department of Census and Statistics recrified certain technical inaccuracies involved in milk production estimation.

  5. The percentage increase in production cannot be computed due to two data bases being used (up to 1984 and since 1984).

  6. Up to 1985 broilers were not included under poultry meat.

  7. Annual average exchange rates: 1970: $1 = 15.611; 1979: $1 = 15.572; 1980: $1 = 16.534; 1981: $1 = 19.246 1982: $1 = 20.812; 1983: $1 = 23.529; 1984: $1 = 25.438; 1985; $1 = 27.163; 1986: $1 = 28.017; 1987 August: $1 = 29.51

Table 6. Animal Feed Retail Prices

Ceylon Oils and Fats Corporation

Item19801986/87Percent Increase
Chick mash1,2404,750283
Layer grower1,8604,650150
Layer mash1,5904,565187
Broiler starter2,0904,980138
Broiler finisher1,9404,980138
Hog starter--4,225--
Hog grower1,4004,200200

Ceylon Grain Elevators Limited

Item19801986/87Percent Increase
Chick mash5,2506,03815   
Layer grower4,4505,11815   
Layer mash4,4005,06015   
Broiler starter5,8006,67015   
Broiler finisher5,3606,16015   
Hog starter4,4005,06015   
Hog grower4,3505,06016.3
Hog finisher

Generally, the private sector feed prices are about 20 percent higher than the government owned corporation feed prices. But still sales could be maintained on the growing confidence of the farmers with regard to its sustained quality and continued year round supply.


The formula feed industry in Sri Lanka is shared both by the government and private sectors. In early stages it thrived as a government subsidized venture but, subsequently, the government subsidies were removed and as a result feed prices went up by almost 100 percent. It is now being run purely on a commercial and competitive basis by both sectors.

Up until about 1984, the government-owned Ceylon Oils and Fats Corporation (OFC) enjoyed a nearly monopolitic position. But with the advent of a few well organized private sector firms, this situation changed. Further in 1985 the Ceylon Grain Elevators limited (CGE) (a multi-national company) entered the area of animal feed business and managed to catch the market very soon. The government also gave its backing to this firm in the form of tax concessions (duty-free imports, etc.).

At present the control of the major share of the formula feed industry has shifted from the hands of the public sector in favour of the private sector in the proportion of 70:30. Nearly 75 percent of the animal feed supply of the country is handled by the OFC and (CGE). It was reported that the CGE is holding a solid 35 percent of the feed market, which may now be even higher at around 38 percent. Next come three private companies, namely; Farm House which attempted to spread its business island-wide, with a market share of about 9 percent; New Bernards holds a share of about 6 percent and Moosagees Ltd. which does business in Colombo city and its suburbs with a market share of about 3 percent. In earlier years (up to about 1980) the British Ceylon Corporation (BCC), presently government-owned, was a leading feed supplier and holding a share of 8–10 percent of the feed market. but it has now come down to about 2 percent or less due to its lesser concentration on animal feed production and the remaining share has been taken over by the small forage dealers. There is also quite a good number of small-scale as well as a few large-scale poultry farmers who buy feed ingredients from the open market and make their own mixtures according to different formulae.

There are 11 feed mills operating in the country of which four belong to the state and seven owned by the private sector. Among these, two mills are with a capacity of around 10,000 mt per month.

The milling capacity is shared on the basis of 40:60 by the state and the private sector, respectively. However, the industry as a whole is run well below the maximum capacity. Even by working only one eight hour shift per day with 25 days per month, mills can produce over 30,000 mt of animal feed. But at present the total production is around 150,000 mt which is only a 50 percent capacity. If all available mills are at maximum capacity (24 hours/3 shifts) and the required raw materials are found, the present feed production can be increased by 6-fold up to about 900,000 mt a year. In other words, only 1/6 of the mill capacity is used at present. Even at a more realistic and practicable way by considering two eight-hour working shifts a day, the country can produce around 60,000 mt of feed annually, i.e., a four-fold increase.

During the last 15 years formula feed production in the country has increased by about 3-fold. In 1970 the country produced around 50,000-55,000 mt of feed. This has gone up to about 150,000 mt at present, an increase of 175 percent in 15 years, excluding the production by private feed mixing plants. If the trend is calculated from 1970 to 1984, the increase in feed production does not appear to be significant. In the 14-year period it shows only an increase of around 40 percent (50,000– 55,000 mt to about 75,000 mt). The entire difference or the real “jump” in the production of animal feed has taken place only within a matter of two years (1985-87) with the entry of CGF, a multi-national company. The animal feed supply has virtually doubled within a very short period of two years. When the production of private mixing plants are also taken into account, the present total animal feed production of the country may be around 200,000 mt.

Almost 95 percent of the formula feed production consists of poultry feed and nearly 4 percent and 2 percent are cattle and swine feed, respectively. The demand for cattle feed has shown a declining trend over the years. For example, BCC produced over 1,000 mt of cattle feed in 1980. This has been reduced to almost 1,500 mt in 1985. Even in the period of seven years prior to 1980 there was an annual average production of 6,500 mt of cattle feed. This may have happened mainly due to the cost factor where farmers preferred grass/tree fodder only or grass plus a little amount of coconut “poonac” to feed their cattle/buffaloes. Of course, there was no steady demand for swine feed.

For the full capacity utilization of mills, the industry should be further expanded and the supply of raw materials must be assured. In a country like Sri Lanka, where seasonal fluctuations in the supply of raw materials, especially soya beans, maize and even coconut poonac are common, it is not advisable to stick to a particular formula but to adopt formulae depending on circumstances.

Since the cost factor is the main consideration, any adjustment in formulae should be based on locally available feed materials. Improvements in formulae can be made by concentrating on producing and supplying quality raw materials. The main problem of the feed industry is the regular supply of quality raw materials in sufficient quantities at constant prices. The supply base, therefore, has to be expanded and strengthened.

Imports and Exports

The principal ingredient of poultry feed that is being imported throughout is fish meal/bone meal. When the volume of imports of fish meal increased about 3-4 times during the period 1970 to 1985 its unit cost increased by about 9-fold in the same period resulting in an outflow of a considerable amount of foreign exchange from the country. The main importing country is Denmark.

Soya bean meal which has been imported since 1978 has shown an 8-fold increase both in volume and value at present. Soya bean meal is imported mainly from India and on a few occasions from the Republic of China.

Sweetened forage and plant residues (residue from chocolate and sugar manufacture) are also imported. The volume of imports has fluctuated very mildly around 400 mt a year. The value, of course, has increased about 4-fold.

Another item of import is veterinary drugs and feed additives. This item has cost Rs. 2.41 million in 1978 and it has increased to Rs. 11.53 million in 1984 (an increase of 378.5 percent).

Despite the local production, maize is being imported during period of local crop failure. However, the import volume in 1985 estimated at 14,000 mt has increased by 68 percent up to the end of October 1986, costing over US$3.34 million.

Sri Lanka's major animal feed ingredient which is exported is coconut “poonac” and Denmark is the main destination. “Poonac” was exported throughout the years and a ban was imposed in 1966 but lifted in 1981. Before 1966 around 10,000 mt of “poonac” a year were exported. This has increased recording 30,435 mt in 1985 registering an income off US$384,000 of Rs. 10.8 million.

Rice bran has been exported from 1975 to Scandinavian countries. The highest volume was recorded in 1976 (21,127 mt). It has gradually come done to a mere 10 mt in 1983. Obviously the income also has dwindled from Rs. 14,456,312 in 1976 to a negligible Rs. 47,548 in 1983. Two reasons may be attributed to this situation: i) almost the entire production has been absorbed by the local poultry industry; and ii) failure to produce high quality bran for the export market on the part of the local milling industry.

Exporting of oil cake has taken place over the years and an increase in the quantity exported is been seen, especially in 1983. In that year a record of over 30,000 mt of oil cake has been exported, earning an income of over US$2.6 million or over Rs. 75.5 million. In 1983 the export volume of oil cake has come done to 13,650 mt.

Small quantities of plant residues and fodder is also included in the export schedule. From the highest, 8,273 mt in 1976 the export volume has cone done to 61 mt in 1983 which is a drop in the income from US$182,516 to 16,195 for that period.

Considering the formula feed industry as a whole, the country can export coconut “poonac” which is the only excess product available at present. Other items that are presently being exported could be utilized locally and some of the imports which involve foreign exchange could be reduced.

Even local fish meal prices have gone up by 700 percent during this period from Rs. 1,500 in 1970 to Rs. 12,000 mt in 1986. The gap between imported and local fish meal prices today is about Rs. 6,000 mt due to the difference in their protein contents. The protein content in local fish meal is about 50-55 percent while imported meal has a protein content of as high as 70–72 percent.

Imported maize prices seem to be lower than the local prices. The government's flow price for maize is Rs. 4/kg (producer price). This may increase up to about Rs. 4.50 /kg when the produce comes to the market. But quite surprisingly, imported, clean, and better quality maize is available at Rs. 3.80/kg. Perhaps, this may be due to the availability of duty-free imports in the market.

The price of day-old chicks has gone up by 173 percent between 1979 and 1986, and by 92 percent for the 5-year period from 1981 to 1986. A few private franchise agents are almost controlling the entire day-old chick market without any regulatory interference from the authorities.

The import duty applicable to cereals and leguminous vegetables for use in the feed industry is 5 percent per kg. This has been put as a protection from external competition to encourage local producers to produce more.

Grass Fodder

Livestock in Sri Lanka obtain a considerable amount of dietary requirements through grazing. In the present context, the dairy sector, in particular, cannot depend heavily on concentrate feed unlike in some other tropical countries. Despite occasional irregular behaviour, Sri Lanka is fortunate enough to have an evenly distributed rainfall to help green pastures and tree fodders grow undisturbed.

The total land area under cultivation or the agricultural area is about 2 million ha of which 48.5 percent comes under permanent crops. The agricultural area of the country is 31 percent of the total land area (6.476 million ha). Tea, rubber and coconut which are the major plantation crops account for 81.6 percent of the total are planted to permanent crops. Paddy dominates food grain production and approximately 74 percent of the arable land is under paddy. Pasture and the total land under agricultural holdings, respectively, (Census of Agriculture, 1982).

Earlier studies have estimated the total area available for grass fodder at 1.2 (Appadurai, 1968), 0.8 (bandaranayake, Perera, 1977) and 0.7 (Shaw, Capper, Manser 1979) million ha, respectively. It is difficult to make an accurate estimation on the availability of pasture and even the above estimates must have changed considerably during the last few years. With the completion of the on-going major irrigation schemes, new land settlement programmes will follow. The Mahaweli River Development Scheme alone will embrace over 0.35 million ha. In addition, crop diversification programmes, inter-cropping programmes, re-forestation campaigns, housing development schemes, etc. are underway. Taking allk these efforts into account it may be safer to estimate the future availability of grass lands for grazing at around 0.45 million ha. As a result, the grass fodder availability may be substantially reduced in the future causing adverse effects on the traditional cattle farming system (free grazing type) in Sri Lanka.

A subsidy scheme for growing pasture introduced in 1973 has since been in existence. However the progress has not been at all that satisfactory during the 150 year period of its operation. An average of about 500 ha per year were added to pasture land. The total area of cultivation of pastures ia round 18,000 ha.

Tree Fodder

In rural area, farmers feed their animals with tree fodders, especially leguminous types, to supplement low quality roughages such as rice straw. A large number of varieties of three leaves have been used as feed unintentionally rather than intentionally when cattle and buffaloes are sent to shrub jungles for free grazing. The value of those as regular feed materials is yet to be established.

In Sri Lanka most abundantly available and commonly used three fodders are Grilicidia (Grilicidia Maculata), “Ipil-iupil” (Leucaena leucocephala) and Jak (Artocarpus heterophyllus). Other freely available fodder trees are the rain tree (Pithecolobium saman), wild sun flower (Ththona diversifolia) and Dadap (Erythrina sp.). The government has launched a campaign to popularize Ipil ipil cultivation with moderate success.

Most of these trees are not grown but let to be grown. If such fodders are found to be important in terms of their nutritive value and also if farmers are convinced, both availability and usage will increase gradually.

Crop Residue

Rice straw is the largest agricultural residue available in Sri Lanka which accounts for about 76 percent of the available fibrous crop residues. It has been estimated that around 2 million mt of rice straw can be expected annually. But quite surprisingly only about 2 percent is utilized as animal feed, at present.

Other main crop residues that can be used more effectively as animal feed are maize, millet, cowpea, sugarcane, soya bean, green gram, ground nut, cassava and sweet potatoes. At present the usages is not at all systematic, regular or deliberate.


Concentrates provide an important part of the total diet of animals which provide energy and thereby increase overall productivity. Most small farmers mix rice bran with coconut “poonac” and feed their cattle/buffalo for better results. However, concentrates are expensive and this makes it difficult for the majority of farmers to use them. The principal concentrate feed materials are maize, wheat bran, rice bran, broken rice, coconut meal, soya bean meal, rubber seed meal and sesame cake.

Except for maize and coconut “poonac”, other cereals are hardly produced in sufficient quantities to be used as animal feed. For example, exports of coconut poonac rose from 3,000 mt in 1983 to over 30,000 mt in 1985 registering an all-time high. A very small quantity of cereal feed is used for ruminant feeding. This is quite a contrasting phenomenon when compared to developed countries. Almost the entire amount of concentrate feeds is used for making poultry feed.

Unconventional Feed

There are a number of unconventional feed resources with a good potential available throughout the island.

They can be classified into four major categories, namely; i) agricultural by-products and wastes; ii) industrial by products; and iv) others. Industrial by-products include mainly brewing and distillery, oil seed, tea, fruit cannery, sugar and forestry industries. Most of these seem to be under-utilized or unutilized resources.


For the livestock and poultry industries, there is absolutely nothing more important than feed. Production is directly related to the amount and quality of feed consumed. For a successful livestock and poultry industry the required nutrient levels for the growth of animals must be met through inexpensive sources of feed supply.

A programme to grow improved pastures, especially in coconut lands, was launched. The government has given a subsidy and it was controlled by the Coconut Cultivation Board. However, the scheme was not attractive to the farmers and the success was very limited. Perhaps, this may have happened due partly to farmers opting to cultivate more profitable cash crops or minor export crops (spices and beverage crops) and partly because the major concern of the authorities of the Coconut Cultivation Board was the development of coconut and not pasture. Subsequently, in a later stage, the pasture subsidy programme was taken over by the Department of Animal Production and Health. Two projects are underway for the improvement of pasture/fodder and feed facilities by establishing three fodder resource research centres. Their achievements are yet to be assessed.

The project for the popularization of urea-treated rice straw has been carried out for a number of years with the assistance of the Netherlands Government, but its success appears to be limited, especially under an ineffective livestock extension system.

The Veterinary Research Institute (VRI) and the Department of Veterinary Science of the University of Peradeniya have been engaged in quite a large number of field trials and research on potential feed materials, but the results have mostly been confined to academic circles. The results do not reach the most important sector, i.e., the farmers.

The government launched a campaign to grow Ipil-ipil, the so called ‘wonder tree’. The intention was to provide animal feed and also serve as a source of fire-wood. The effort was successful to some extent and dried leaves were being used even as an ingredient in making poultry feed. Hence, again the interest appears to have been short-lived.


Government policies no doubt heavily influence development of the livestock and poultry industries either way. If profits are not attractive, farmers will not continue in that enterprise. The government policies can help to balance the advantages and disadvantages so as to keep farmers in the business. Particularly, there is no specific or clear-cut, government policy to regulate or for the development of an animal feed industry.

Except for maize, cereals are not produced for animal feed locally. The government-backed floor price scheme is being applied to soya beans, maize, millet, etc.

The Veterinary Research Institute which comes under the Department of Animal Production and Health supervises on call, gives advice and does tests on request with regard to feed formulae, feed ingredients, etc. The need for a quality control system and prevention of adulteration of compound feed was stressed in many instances. But no legal/regulatory measures have been taken up to now.

Government policy on slaughter of cattle and buffaloes has been mentioned as a discouraging reason for the development of the beef industry. The government has banned the slaughter of buffaloes and cows. This may be due to the fact that still the main draft power for agriculture is supplied through buffaloes and the religious and cultural taboos regarding the eating of animal flesh. There is no rearing of cows and buffaloes for beef alone in Sri Lanka as in the case of most other countries. Though there is a government controlled retail price for beef, in reality it has become only a nominal price.

The country's milk industry was privatized in the latter part of 1986. After about 32 long years of existence, the national Milk Board (a government-owned corporation) closed its shutters and handed over its operations to a private company called Milk Industries Lanka Company Limited (MILCO).

The apex body is the Dairy Development Foundation (DDF) which controls the entire milk industry and it is funded by the World bank, the Netherlands government and the World Food Programme. The effectiveness of the pricing policies for milk which are to be adopted and the progress of the industry as a whole are yet to be assessed.

The import policy of the government also directly fluences the industry. The government has given tax concessions and duty free import facilities to the Ceylon Grain Elevators Ltd. As a result, provender feed production has more than doubled but at the expense of a near monopolistic position of the state sector. Pros and coinc of this policy have to be carefully studies separately, may be under a separate context.

in the past, on several occasions the government tried to stabilize the demand/supply situation through price changes in animal feed (poultry). But under the more liberalized economic policies prevailing at present, the possibility and the effectiveness of such action seem to be minimal.


As explained earlier when incomes rise beyond certain levels per capita consumption of cereals directly as food, declines and the demand and thereby consumption of livestock products increases resulting in an increased derived demand for feed grains.

It is true that when more and more lands are irrigated and come under crops, lands which can be used for free grazing gets reduced and limited. But on the other hand, the availability of cereals for feed, by-products and crop residues will increase.

In Sri Lanka the main feed ingredients such as fish meal, maize, soya beans and coconut poonac come under the purview of separate authorities. Sometimes decisions taken by those authorities (Ministries) affect the prices and as a result the supply of feed. A very close coordination between these authorities is needed as far as the development of a feed industry is concerned.

Since rice is the staple food of the country and rice production is on the threshold of the self-sufficiency, prospects are bright for the use of other cereals as animal feed.

The available underutilized/unutilized resources have to be tapped in order to fill the existing gap between the requirement and the supply of feed. To produce livestock products at competitive prices it is very important to utilize relatively cheap local resources at a minimum level. Untapped unconventional feed resources have a good potential in this regard.

Through a long-term intensified programme for cultivation of improved pasture and leguminous tree fodder in the areas where suitable climatic conditions prevail, satisfactory results may be achieved. By studying the economics of it, incentives have to be given to attract farmers.

In the field of concentrate feed, the potential to increase local production of all the ingredients which are used in Sri Lanka is still very promising.

Government intervention and the introduction of a system of contract farming to ensure a stable price for farmers who are producing feed crops would boost the production of these crops. Except for coconut “poonac” and rice bran other ingredients are imported at present. The possibility of a complete ban on imports or restricted imports of essential raw materials to make animal feed, cannot be an impossible expectation if available resources, programmes and thinking are diverted in that direction.

In the short-run a quality control system has to be adopted to ensure the quality of feed. No official guarantee is given by the producers to farmers in respect of quality or about the ingredients included. An enactment of laws is necessary to ensure quality and to prevent anti-social acts such as adulteration.

The minimum nutrient standards of feed varieties have to laid down and strictly enforced.

Price and input incentives have to be given to increase animal feed crop production. First, the available fodder/crop residues/feed crops in each area and also the ability to increase their production and their suitability for using as animal feed have to be researched and identified, and then steps must be taken to develop those resources intensively. A programme of regional specialization may be implemented in this connection.

In planning a strategy for the development of an animal feed industry in Sri Lanka, attention has to be first concentrated on the main agricultural crops, viz., tea, rubber, coconut and paddy so as to obtain the maximum out of them in the form of residues, wastes and by-products.

A creation of a fair competitive atmosphere to both government and private sector organizations may help in evolving a better and an efficient feed manufacturing industry in the country.

Both in the short- and long-runs an efficient and a vigorous livestock extension system will have to be established to popularize new feeding systems and feeds and also educate farmers n using feed scientifically.

The attention of the government has been focussed on the livestock and poultry sector as a high priority and potential area for development. Hence the need to strengthen the animal feed industry is called for.


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Sarma, J.S. (1986), Cereal Feed use in the Third World: Past Trends and Projections to 2000 - Research Report 57, IFRI. Shaw, J.R., Capper, B.S. and Manser, P.J. (1979), A Strategy for the Development of the Livestock Feed Industry in Sri Lanka.

Siriwardena, J.A. de S. (1985), “Relevance of Crop residues and Non-conventional Feed in overcoming Feed Shortages” - Proceedings of a Seminar on “Potential of Rice Straw in Ruminant Feeding - Research and Field Application” held in Peradeniya, Sri Lanka., 15-16 February 1985.

Sri Lanka Livestock Statistics - 1984/85, Ministry of Rural Industrial Development.

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