Sri Lanka and Australia signed an agreement on October 16 to import 20,000 milch cows for uplifting small and medium scale dairy farmers under a programme to make Sri Lanka self-sufficient in liquid milk by the year 2016.
Importing Australian milch cows of superior breeds to uplift dairy farmers and improve the livestock industry began two years ago in accordance with President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Mahinda Chintana Vision.
Under the programme, 2000 milch cows were imported in 2012. Through artificial insemination these cows gave birth to 1500 calves which were distributed among dairy farmers in the Dry Zone. Its tremendous success led to the decision to import further 20,000 cows.
Economic Development Ministry Secretary Dr. Nihal Jayatilleke and Australian Wellard Exports Director Scott Braithwaita signed the agreement. Present at the occasion were Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Australian High Commissioner Robyn Mudie, Economic Development Ministry’s Additional Secretary Priyantha Mayadunne and Australian Representatives Karin Kobelentz, Colin Webb and Johann Wasserman.
Sri Lanka currently produces only 42 percent of its milk requirements. The country has to spend annually 300 million U.S. dollars to import the balance 58 percent. Since this Government came to power in 2005 the production of liquid milk has increased by128 million litres up to 2013. It is a 56 percent increase.
At present, the registered number of dairy farmers in Sri Lanka is 238,321 while the number of small scale unregistered farmers is nearly 100,000. Livestock experts believe that if 30,000 milch cows can be milked the country will become self-sufficient in liquid milk.
According to Sri Lanka’s animal and health product reports the country’s daily milk consumption per person is 134 milliliters.
Importing milch cows of superior breeds, building cattle sheds, expansion of grass lands, giving special credit facilities to dairy farmers and promoting milk production are being done under the Divi Neguma National Programme.