• Last Update 2023-03-25 17:31:00

Industry stakeholders urge formulation of national milk production policy


Industry stakeholders last week urged the formulation of a national milk production policy accompanied by a 5-year development plan.

By Quintus Perera

Industry stakeholders last week urged the formulation of a national milk production policy accompanied by a 5-year development plan.

To fulfill their task and to increase the milk production in the country a new association representing this industry is also bringing down Australian and US experts to offer advice.

These points emerged at the first AGM of the All Island Dairy Association (AIDA) which was held last week at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Auditorium with the incumbent president, Nishantha Jayasooriya being reelected as president for 2020.

He said that the initial work to form the association was started in 2017 with all stakeholders coming together to form the organisatio which is now charged with a herculean task of increasing the country’s overall milk production to offset the massive import bill of Rs. 45 billion on imported milk.

He told the Business Times on the sidelines of the AGM that there are many impediments to achieve this goal as the country today imports more than 60 per cent of its milk requirement. 

Mr. Jayasooriya said that the established procedure of milk industry is difficult to penetrate and requires more time, noting that they have drawn up plans to cut down imports by around 60 to 65 per cent but such a task would take around seven years.

The association has stressed that to achieve that task first the impediments have to be weeded out.  Mr. Jayasooriya pointed out that while the regulator dealt with only individual organisations the time has come for the regulator to work with the association and discuss industry issues.   

“The main difficulty we face now is actually getting the regulator to one table in making the regulatory framework before certain policy changes are being done. We need to discuss these policy changes before they are implemented,” he said.

To feed the animals adequately they need fodder and land and water is necessary to cultivate fodder. Providing animal food to the milking cows is a big burden the industry faces and for the cultivation of fodder they need more than 2,000 hectares of land and adequate water. 

Another important area that the association is concentrating on is developing the smallholder.  He said that the smallholders who work with one or two heads of animal are catering to 90 per cent of the rural milk needs of the county.  What they strive to do is to elevate the small holder to medium size and the medium sized to large scale farmers. 

Two experts – Dr. Don Michell, Agricultural Economist and Development Policy Specialist, Market Oriented Diary (MOD) Project, USDA Food Progress Project and Mathew Krause, Project Director from the same organization, were present at the AIDA AGM and are now working in the dairy fields of Sri Lanka.

Dr. Michell told the Business Times that they are market-related dairy farmers working for the Department of Agriculture, US Government and said that they are working with the dairy farmers here in training the farmers in dairy management and how to build best quality. He said the fodder supply is under-developed here.

So far they have trained over 200 in fodder production and given them training on best practices. He said: “We have provided instructions to prepare 706 hectares of land in fodder cultivation.  We are paving the way to link the fodder suppliers and the farmers – large farms as well as small farms. We are also providing necessary know-how to package fodder for them to be used during periods of dry season.”

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