Sri Lanka runs out of chicken as tourists flock to island

December 8, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka is set to import chicken for the first time in over two decades as consumption zooms due to a tourist bonanza and rising incomes on the formerly war-ravaged island, a minister said Wednesday. Trade Minister Johnston Fernando said he had ordered the import of 2,500 tonnes of chicken and 50 million eggs to meet the demand during the upcoming Christmas holiday season.

The number of foreign holiday makers has increased by 43.5 percent in the first 10 months of this year compared to 2009, with nearly half a million travelling to Sri Lanka to sample its beaches and wildlife.

Rising incomes across the island, particularly in the north and east where government forces were fighting rebels until May last year, were also to blame for the chicken shortage, Fernando explained.

“I have ordered the immediate importing of chicken to meet the shortfall,” the minister told parliament. “This will also help stabilise prices.”

Chicken is considered a luxury food in Sri Lanka where rice and vegetable curry is the staple. A kilo (2.2 pounds) of chicken costs 3.5 dollars, half the daily wage of an average casual labourer.

A trade ministry official said the first consignment of 500 t