Sri Lanka’s smallholder dairy farmers are at the heart of the local dairy industry and an integral part of the nation’s rural economy.
This 300,000 strong farmer base supplies 90% of the nation’s local milk – and has the potential to greatly improve their yield of high-quality milk and thus their own income levels, driving a positive impact to the socio-economic landscape of rural Sri Lanka.
Focused training and development to improve milk yield and quality:
As a dairy co-operative from New Zealand, Fonterra continues to work hand-in-hand with smallholder dairy farmer families, communities, and other partners to create a thriving local dairy industry, having invested over Rs. 3.7Bn into strengthening its local dairy value chain.
Managing Director of Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka and Indian Sub-Continent Ms. Vidya Sivaraja explains that as a dairy co-operative at heart, the company is committed to making a tangible difference by sharing expertise and best practices.
“We have invested in focused training and development initiatives with our farmers centred around the right herd, right feed and right business model to increase milk yield and quality. Our pioneering Training and Demonstration Farm in Pannala opened in 2016 to help us amplify the impact of these initiatives.”
Over the years, Fonterra has trained over six thousand farmers across the nation at its Pannala Training and Demonstration Farm and has welcomed over a thousand visitors from the government, universities, and other institutions.
Co-creating solutions at the grassroots:
In addition to the above programmes in place, Fonterra commenced an initiative to co-create and implement specific solutions together with its dairy farmers through its ‘Dairy Discussion Groups’, organised at the grass root. These solutions were geared to improve milk quality and yield through practical training, the provision of fodder and farming equipment and a workable cost-effective business model.
The solutions being implemented are in line with the imperatives called out by the President’s National Policy Framework. At the centre is the small holder dairy farmer – a focus that has been echoed by the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force for Economic Revival and Poverty Eradication.
At Fonterra’s Pannala Training and Demonstration Farm, fodder is grown and distributed to neighbouring farmers in the vicinity
Ms. Vidya Sivaraja hands over grass cutting equipment to a Fonterra dairy farmer at a September Dairy Discussion Group.
“Good insights come from the grass root. Such consultations have been valuable in co-creating solutions to help improve milk quality and yield,” says Vidya. “Our discussions only prove that our country is rich in resources, talent and ingenuity. We are committed to championing this potential in line with the nation’s priorities.”
Dairy farmers participate in Dairy Discussion Group series kicked off by Ms. Vidya Sivaraja and her team.
Fonterra dairy farmer Mr. Dharmashri Thennakoon, one of the beneficiaries of the fodder and equipment distribution programme stated, “The Dairy Discussion Group was a valuable learning experience and we will be able to apply these learnings on-farm. I was very appreciative that this was followed with the provision of grass cutting equipment. We hope Fonterra continues to host discussions such as this in the future where we can all grow together and find solutions as a community.”
Mr. Indra Jayasinghe, a Fonterra dairy farmer from Kuliyapitiya says, “At a time where accessibility and costs of feed is a challenge, getting extra fodder from Fonterra helped me sustain my operations.”
Global co-operative, local footprint:
Fonterra touches the livelihoods of over 250,000 people across the country through its operations, including traders, retailers, distributors, agents and farmers.
Since 1997, Fonterra Brands Lanka has been collecting Sri Lankan milk for its local dairy portfolio of set and stirred yogurts, drinking yogurts, and fresh and flavored milk. To preserve the quality of this milk, Fonterra has also invested in milk chilling, collecting, and processing infrastructure with pioneering technology that can help define future milk quality standards for the nation.
The company has also recently accelerated its export efforts of value-added dairy, in alignment with the vision and the imperatives set out by the Presidential Task Force for Economic Revival and Poverty Eradication.
Amongst the many initiatives in place to grow our nation’s local dairy industry, multi-stakeholder collaboration and co-creation of solutions is a refreshing approach, bringing farmers, dairy companies, industry groups and the government together to make a difference.