* Self sufficiency would plough back Rs. 35 bn to local farmers
By Ravi Ladduwahetty
Sri Lanka needs to triple its current fresh milk production from 550,000 litres a day to 1.6 billion litres if milk imports were to be stopped.
The total national milk production which was only 225,000 litres per day has now been doubled to 550,000 litres a day which needs to be tripled for self sufficiency to be reached, Milk Industries of Lanka Co. Ltd ( MILCO) Chairman Sunil Wickremasinghe told The Island Financial Review yesterday
While stating that is company accounted for 220,000 litres of the 550,000 litres processed on a daily basis, the MILCO Chief also asserted that reaching self sufficiency would mean that a total sum of over Rs. 35 billion would be injected to the lives of the local farmer which will see uplifting of these lifestyles then, he said.
One of the main challenges of MILCO was to popularize drinking fresh milk which was now the worldwide trend and what was also seen as important from the Sri Lankan perspective was, to first reduce and then stop milk imports from New Zealand subsidizing their farmer ! Sri Lanka was the fifth biggest market for New Zealand powdered milk exporters.
Meanwhile, MILCO has invested Rs. 630 million in two Ultra Heat Treatment machines which have been imported from Finland’s Elasta, a brand leader in milk machinery which has the capacity of processing 120,000 daily and the machines are installed at the Polonnaruwa and Digana factories, he said
The company has also increased its milk chilling centres to 77 countrywide which brings the processed milk to the company’s four factories in Colombo, Digana, Polonnaruwa and Ambewela.
The MILCO Chief who also accompanied Livestock Development Minister Arumugam Thondaman on a countrywide tour to see the grievances of dairy farmers, were also told that the biggest drawback of the farmers was to get land for cattle grazing. The Minister has directed the Provincial Council authorities to do the needful.
The Minister had also assured that the farmers would be provided with their grass cuttings and seeds as well.
Meanwhile, Thondaman last week directed the MILCO Chairman to increase the production of the cattle feed factory at Polgahawela so that the costs of animal feed could be reduced, a benefit which could be passed on to dairy farmers.
The Minister’s directive to the MILCO Chairman came at the Parliamentary Consultative Committee meeting of the Ministry of Dairy Development.
Arrangements will now be made to triple the animal feed production from the current 100 tons per month to 300 tonnes which will enable the members of the 220 farmer societies to get their requirements cheaper, which will also bring the production of milk down,
The Minister’s response came following the representations made by the District Development Committees which said that the costs of milk production was high and one of the reasons was the high costs of animal feed.
The government has also established 10 dairy villages in the southern belt which was following a request made by UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa and it was discussed and that there were 450 litres of milk collected on a dialy basis from the 142 farmers in those villagers.
The Minister, responding to a question, said that there were a sufficient stocks of one day chicks which were available to hatcheries in contrast to around a year ago and that was one of the reasons why the chicken prices were stable and egg prices were low, they said.