Due to unbelievably high import taxes levied on maize which makes up 50% of the poultry feed, a Sri Lankan feed manufacturer, turned to manioc (tapioca) as a cheaper substitute, which appeared to have been contaminated with a deadly toxin.
The owner of Super Feeds told The Nation that he placed an order for 100 tonnes of manioc powder at $185 per tonne FOB with a Philippino supplier he contacted through the internet as they were finding it difficult to continue with their business.
But when the consignment reached Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo at the beginning of this month it was found to be contaminated with aflatoxin and it was also short by 25 tonnes.
Super Feeds said as ordered by authorities he had the consignment fumigated before opening, burnt it in furrows cut into a ten acre estate and buried the burnt consignment in the same furrows.
He is now hoping to recover his loss of about four million rupees (€25,000) from the insurer.
Health sources said the country was lucky that the authorities detected the toxin no sooner the consignment reached Colombo as otherwise had it gone into feed, birds would have got severely affected.
The Super Feeds owner said they resorted to cheaper substitute as the import taxes on maize totals to about 75% of its landed cost.
He and other manufacturers charge that firms coming under Board of Investment like Prima and Gold Coin were exempted from the custom duty of 15% introduced from March this year, thereby giving them an unfair advantage over local producers.
In addition to the 15% customs duty, there is a cess of 35% plus other taxes all totalling about 75% of the landed cost of maize.
The Director General of Fiscal Policy at the Finance Ministry asked about this unfair competition, said this was a measure decided in March at a meeting chaired by senior presidential advisor to help the local maize grower, but they hoped to review it soon.