Thursday, November 25, 2010

Increasing the Nation’s Milk Production

I have read so many recent articles about the effort to increase Milk production in SL and if one were to believe what is published one would be very optimistic about its future. The reality however yet again is somewhat different. Why is it that we in SL have so many schemes and so much talk, with very little action. There was an article about the NLDB doubling their milk production within 3 months (the three months are long gone since the article was published) with the import of higher yielding milk cows and assistance from Israel. Then there was the article about a prominent politician who had set up a company to increase milk production, while engaging in giving skills to the youth to obtain self employment by giving them loans to get the cows and get them to produce the milk. This was headed by a Managing Director who had previously worked in the largest dairy farm in Saudi. None of these have come to fruition or even commenced. There is no shame in lying!!!

It is no surprise then that private sector ventures, ‘petro lanka’ in Mirigama, by a Sri Lankan who returned from overseas and set up his own dairy, and then the multinational Nestle which has expanded in the North and East by setting up new chilling centers are the ones making real positive contributions in this regard. Additionally LMF a company quoted in the CSE (Colombo Stock Exchange) raised Rs700M by way of a rights issue to expand their already huge dairy business. It goes to show that all these government initiatives just seem to be hot air to get some airtime or press time, with no real teeth to it.

The poor milk farmer, and I count myself as one them is left to struggle through the mire literally with little real help to improve productivity and revenue in this genuinely honorable goal of becoming less dependent on imported milk products.
Rich countries use the implantation of female embryos to produce good quality female calves, and this is justifiable bearing in mind their high yielding cows. In our small way we must get the sexing machines that are now available and used in other countries to sex the sperm, so that when AI is used (artificial insemination) we have a greater chance of a female calf, so as to increase the population of milk producing animals as compared with the male calves that end up being killed.

Without just making statements, the Govt should guarantee a minimum price for milk, like Rs50/kg so as to encourage new and existing farmers to expand and improve, rather than close down and give up as it is not cost effective. Most of all, the quality of the animals to suit the climate, and targeted education of the farmer in proper methods of fodder, feeding, milking and care are desperately needed.

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