Discussion on global case studies to boosting prospects for Sri Lanka’s dairy industry

Wednesday, 24 May 2023 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Second from left: University of Peradeniya Faculty of Agriculture Prof. Pradeepa Silva and panellists from left: New Zealand Farmer and Special Agricultural Trade Envoy Mel Poulton; All-Island Dairy Association President Binesh Pananwala ; Yugashakthi (Guarantee) Chief Executive Officer Selina Prem Kumar


High Commissioner of New Zealand Michael Appleton 



The Pathfinder Foundation, in partnership with the New Zealand High Commission in Colombo, organised a high-level Agriculture Reform Panel Discussion titled “Prospects for Sri Lanka’s Dairy Industry: International Case Studies” in Colombo

The half-day panel discussion included high-level experts from India and New Zealand who shared scientific evidence, policy analysis, and international best practices in dairy development with the Sri Lankan Government, policymakers, researchers, industry bodies and other relevant technical experts who attended the event. The overall discussion aimed to inspire and inform Sri Lanka’s dairy development stakeholders as the country embarks on a process of agricultural policy reform. Areas covered included strengthening cooperatives and smallholder farms, market-based policy reforms, productivity and infrastructure development, technology and sustainable agriculture

 The event was attended by nearly 60 participants, including government officials from the Presidential Secretariat, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Department of Animal Production and Health, and the National Livestock Development Board. All Island Dairy Association, Fonterra Brands Lanka Ltd., Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), World Bank and universities were among the key institutions that attended the half-a-day event.

 Several senior officials representing New Zealand Dairy Industry, namely, Primary Industries Counsellor Mel Phillips, New Zealand Farmer and Special Agricultural Trade Envoy Mel Poulton, participated in the technical sessions sharing their expertise and experience.

Pathfinder Foundation Chairman Bernard Goonetilleke, delivered welcome remarks whilst High Commissioner Appleton’s opening remarks included a message from New Zealand’s Agriculture Minister O’Connor, The Minister’s statement highlighted that, as agriculture-producing countries, there is a lot that New Zealand and Sri Lanka can learn from each other. He further emphasised that in their experience, the key lies with working together at all levels - local, country, regional and global.

 Goonetilleke, in his address, mentioned that this forum takes place at a critical juncture where decisions are being taken to implement several policy reforms in Sri Lanka, including in the agricultural sector. As an allied sub-sector of agriculture, the dairy industry in Sri Lanka is an important sector of the country’s economy, playing a significant role in providing livelihoods contributing to rural development and ensuring food security, he said.

There were two technical Sessions:

 Technical Session 1 on the Overview of Dairy Development and Policy-Making in NZ, India and Sri Lanka, was moderated by Department of Animal Production and Health, Peradeniya  Director General  Dr. Hemali Kothalawala and included DairyNZ Farmer elected Director Dr. Jacqueline Rowarth;  Livestock Development, Presidential Secretariat Director Dr D.S.S. Perera;NDDB, India Senior General Manager (Productivity Enhancement) Dr R.O. Gupta joining online) and The World Bank India Senior Agribusiness Specialist  Adarsh Kumar (joining online) as panellists.

 Perspectives from the Industry – Cooperative Models, Smallholder Farms and the Private Sector was the title of Technical Session 2, which included panellists, New Zealand Farmer and Special Agricultural Trade Envoy Mel Poulton; All-Island Dairy AssociationPresident Binesh Pananwala ; Yugashakthi (Guarantee) Chief Executive Officer Selina Prem Kumar and  Binsar Farms (India)  Chairman and Dairy Farmer Earl Rattray who joined online. The session was moderated by, University of Peradeniya Faculty of Agriculture Prof. Pradeepa Silva.

 Wrapping up, Primary Industries Counsellor New Zealand High Commission New Delhi , Mel Phillips  , highlighted that dairy production has a massive impact on human nutrition due to its renowned health benefits. In a country facing both animal and human nutrition deficiency, this could be a real opportunity to uplift the dairy sector and, with it, to encourage the lives and the health of Sri Lankans. She further reiterated that there are important decisions yet to be taken in this regard by the Sri Lankan Government and hoped that this had been a useful forum to push that agenda forward.