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All Island Dairy Association Webinar Commemorates World Milk Day

Webinar highlights the dairy value chain efforts to increase national milk productionand vision for the future

World Milk Day was established in 2001 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations to recognize the importance of milk as a global food, and to celebrate the dairy sector. Every year since, the benefits of milk and dairy products have been actively promoted around the world, including how dairy supports the livelihoods of one billion people. To commemorate World Milk Day 2021, the All Island Dairy Association (AIDA)in collaboration with the Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD) Project hosted a webinar to celebrate the dairy sector’s contribution to the national economy and rural livelihood development showcasing innovations and initiatives carried out to develop the sector. Key industry stakeholders across the value chain including members of the dairy farming community at grassroots levelparticipated in the session sharing valuable insights providing pathways to further improve the sector.

Opening the sessions, Mr. Nishantha Jayasooriya, President of AIDA and CEO of Richlife Dairy Pvt Ltd, stated that World Milk Day signifies the importance of milk and its contribution to the national economy. Mr. Jayasooriya said, “The role dairy plays in society is not only as a nutrition provider but also as a creator of livelihoods for generations and uplifting micro economies in the country”. Yet, today, the local dairy production fulfils only about 40% of the demand for milk consumption in the island, creating tremendous opportunities in the development of the dairy sector in Sri Lanka. Highlighting the vital role of the dairy industry, Mr. Jayasooriya added “I hope this webinar creates further awareness of the growth opportunities and encourages investors the stakeholders to concentrate and consolidate actions to develop the industry”.

The Chief Guest Dr.(Mrs) Hemali Kothalawela, Director General of the Department of Animal Production and Health (DAPH), stated that milk has traditionally played an important nutritional and cultural role. At present, nearly 85% of the dairy farmers are at a subsistence level of production with about 60% of these farmers having less than five animals. Approximately 10% of the national production is contributed to the large farms. Currently, the dairy industry of Sri Lanka is in a transitional stage. Dr. Kothalawala stated,“To work towards the national policy of self-sufficiency with the annual growth in demand, our emphasis is to convert the small-scale livelihood dairy farmers with potential to a more profit oriented medium-scale enterprises as well as further facilitate development of mega farms.”In addition, Dr. Kothalawela stated that leveraging digital technology to deliver extension services, providing required incentives and inputs, development of infrastructure, focus on quality assurance and providing required support to the smooth functioning of the value chain are key to the planned strategy.

The distinguished panel consisted of Mr. Binesh Pananwala,Vice President of AIDA,CEO Watawala Dairy Ltd; Mr. D. M. Auward, DGM-Milk Procurement Milco Pvt Ltd; Mr. Akmal Wickramanayke, Managing Director Pelwatte Dairy Pvt Ltd; Dr. Susantha Mallawa Arachchi, Director-Agro Farms, General Manager Animal Health Hayleys Agriculture Holdings Limited; Mr. Gamini Rajapaksha, Managing Director Hypromac Engineering Services; Dr. Keerthi Gunasekara, Director; Quadragen VetHealth Pvt Ltd. The panelists shared new approaches and new technologies introduced to improve quality, milk production.

Facilitated by the Market-Oriented Dairy project, two progressive members of the dairy farming community also joined the discussion providing a unique and insightful message to the potential of the dairy industry.Mr. Paskaran Vakisan, a young, commercial fodder entrepreneur from Nedunkernywho cultivates his own fodder, has helped build the capacity of several outgrowers in the community and supplies the produce to a MOD developed silage entrepreneur in Killinochchi who in turn supplies about 100,000kg of silage a month. Mr. Punchi Bandara, a dairy farmer from Girandurukotte, shared his experienceof implementing the basic best practices using his own resources such as providing 24-hour milk, growing green fodder, feeding according to Total Mixed Ration, adopting transition cow management and practicing better calf management can increase daily yield from 25 liters to 100 liters in less than one year.Both the commercial fodder cultivator and the dairy farmerstated that the success of their enterprise andsecret to increasing milk is gaining knowledge of new techniques and technologies and committing to apply these best practices.

The webinarwas moderated by Mr. Asoka Bandara, Vice President of AIDA, Group Head of Corporate Affairs & Strategy, Maliban Group and concluded by the Mr. Chithral Munaweera, General Manager and Consultant to AIDA.

QUOTABLE QUOTES

“Feed matters a lot. For a mega-scale farm, gaining economies of scale on the cost of feed which is about 70% of the cost is essential.” Mr. Binesh Pananwala, Vice President of AIDA, CEO Watawala Dairy Ltd

“Departing from the outdated practices and modernizing the way the farm is managed is the only way to drive productivity. Training the farmers and providing value added services is the way to sustain the farmer base.”Mr. Akmal Wickramanayke, Managing Director Pelwatte Dairy Pvt Ltd

“We have to address the three key barriers to increasing milk production. MILCO is focusing on addressing the issues related to the under-fed animals, lack of breeding material and adjusting attitudes and management practices of dairy farmers.” Mr.D. M. Auward, DGM-Milk Procurement Milco Pvt Ltd

“Our focus is to introduce innovative products and services to the dairy industry in three critical areas - to improve milk yield and shorten calving interval; disease free cows with healthy udders; and quality milk for the consumers.” Dr.Susantha Mallawa Arachchi, Director-Agro Farms, General Manager Animal Health Hayleys Agriculture Holdings Limited

“Local fabrication of some equipment has also helped reduce costs, a breakthrough to Sri Lankan investors.” Mr. Gamini Rajapaksha, Managing Director Hypromac Engineering Services

“Opportunities exist across the dairy value chain to bridge the gaps as the country aims to reach self-sufficiency.” Dr. Keerthi Gunasekara, Director; Quadragen VetHealth Pvt Ltd