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Sri Lanka will 'set the pace' for India in milk yield and quality: Wellard

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By Mark Astley+

24-Jul-2014
Last updated on 25-Jul-2014 at 14:12 GMT

Sri Lanka will soon "set the pace" for neighboring India in terms of milk quality and yield per cow, Australia's largest livestock exporter, Wellard Rural Exports, has claimed.

The National Livestock Development Board (NLDB), a Sri Lankan Ministry of Livestock and Rural Community Development agency, drafted in Wellard Rural Exports to help increase the country’s milk supply and reduce its reliance on imported milk powder.

At the time, Sri Lanka was around 15% self-sufficient, and relied on milk powder imports worth around US$300m (€222m) each year.

To reduce this deficit, Sri Lanka set itself a goal of producing 600m additional liters of milk per year - a seemingly impossible task for a country with such a small dairy industry.

Aiming to boost the size of Sri Lanka’s dairy herd and increase the average daily yield from around three liters of milk per cow to the Australian average of 26 liters, Wellard supplied dairy cattle and equipment and advised on infrastructure and management.

Speaking with DairyReporter.com, Johann Wasserman, international project manager, Wellard Rural Exports, claimed that on the back of NLDB's dairy development project Sri Lanka will in time overtake India, recently named the world's largest milk producer, in terms of milk quality and average yield per cow.

“I think that Sri Lanka is far ahead of India,” said Wasserman. “I think they will become the leader in this region.”

“Sri Lanka will set the pace. It actually already has a better system in place. I think Sri Lanka’s quality and average production will be higher than in India.”

Private sector interest

Wellard's first shipment of dairy cows arriving in Sri Lanka.

Phase one, a five-year, US$13m (€9.6m) project saw Wellard supply 2,000 Jerseys, Friesians, and Jersey Friesians to three farms in the central “temperate” Bopaththalawa region of Sri Lanka in March 2012.

The second, two-year, US$21m (€15.5m) project will see Wellard supply an additional 2,500 dairy cattle and infrastructure to a new indoor “controlled environment” dairy farm in “drier” south Sri Lanka.

Having witnessed the early success of the NLDB dairy development project, the private sector has even come calling, said Wasserman.

“Now they see how successful the first phase was they want to get involved," he said.

“There are a few private sector projects in the pipeline. We’ve had interest from local and foreign dairies.”

“The Ministry of Economic Development is also looking into a 20,000 cow project as well,” said Wasserman.

“Always…room for importation”

Despite the initial success of the NLDB project and the additional government and private sector interest, Sri Lanka will “realistically” never be self-sufficient, said Wasserman.

“There will always be room for importation,” he said.

“When they Talk about self-sufficiency, it won’t be 100%,” he said. “It will likely be between 60% and 70%.”

“That is a massive goal,” said Wasserman. “I hope they achieve it, but there are still a lot of skills that need to be developed.”

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2 comments

Development requires People as well as imported Cows

Good luck with the project. But it is not a new idea to import European breeds to boost production in a temperate region. A better trick is to raise production throughout the country by improving extension, and knowledge in breeding & feeding and veterinary care, via farmer-led cooperatives. That way you raise rural family incomes too. Read Candler & Kumar (http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/1998/06/693278/india-dairy-revolution)

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Posted by Bruce Scholten
25 July 2014 | 08h10

The comparison between India and Sri Lanka is absurd

Where is India, the largest milk producing country in the world with over 132 Million MT, and Sri Lanka. There is no comparison. As far as the real politics of milk in Sri Lanka is concerned, I know how little they have control over the vested interests in Sri Lanka in importing milk powder and dairy products. Had they been seriously interested, they would not have killed the Dr.V Kurien (NDDB)-initiated Kiriya Dairy Project in Sri Lanka in the early 2000s. There is a powerful lobby in Sri Lanka who benefits from dairy imports. This Australian gentleman is trying to paint a rosy picture for a nation, with import of a few hundred milch animals! What is really required is a holistic dairy development programme in Sri Lanka where the poor farmers should become the owners of the dairy structures that may be created. Without the feeling of ownership in the dairy farmers on the production, procurement, processing and marketing (as in the case of Amul-model in India), there can never be self sufficiency of milk and milk products in Sri Lanka. Import of a few thousand animals is not the answer for a nation, it could be for a Company!!

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Posted by Joseph Purathur
25 July 2014 | 06h41

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