Liquid milk revolution Programme to make the country self


Liquid milk revolution Programme to make the country self
Liquid milk revolution Programme to make the country selfsufficient in fresh milk
November 12, 2014. By Dharman Wickremaratne
Many might still remember the milkman bringing fresh milk to households in the
morning and ringning his bicycle bell. This was a time when children enjoyed fresh
milk. But today it is not the same situation. There is neither fresh milk nor a milkman.
We no longer hear his bicycle bell. Everything has been stamped under the jackboot of
multinational milkpowder corporations and buried in the sands of time.
They introduced milkpowder to Sri Lanka in 1927. At first they were generous enough to
distribute powdered milk free through hospitals. It can be likened to multinational
corporations selling wheat flour after giving CARE (Cooperative American Relief
Everywhere) biscuits free to school children for years.
At the beginning in 1927 the multinational promoters of powdered milk claimed that it
was nutritious for children. Thereafter they propagated the view that milk powder was
good for lactating mothers. This campaign began with advertisements in colour
published in the Sandaresa and Dinamina newspapers in January 1936. Among the wellknown brands of baby milk powder at the time were Cow & Gate and Lactogen.
Thereafter in 1945 they said milk powder was good for everyone in the family if
consumed daily.
After independence the Government’s Information Department lauched a counter
offensive in 1949 stressing the importance of fresh cow’s milk. It stressed the cow’s milk
was a complete food item comprising all the vitamins needed for the growth of the
human body. But the multinationals succeeded in sabotaging the department’s campaign
by bribing certain officials through granting scholarships and other privileges. As a result
the multinationals were able to baptise their powdered milk as the food of royal babies in
It is the Mahinda Chinthana Vision which helped to take a giant step forward in making
the country self-sufficient fresh milk. Accordingly special programmes were launched to
strengthen the dairy farmer and uplift the livestock industry. A number of measures were
adopted to encourage fresh milk consumption and sales. This concept of President
Mahinda Rajapaksa was activated under the direction of Economic Development
Minister Basil Rajapaksa.
Under this programme the Government’s objective is to make Sri Lanka self-sufficient
in milk production by 2016. Live Stock, Rural Development and Agricultural Ministries
are assisting the Economic Development Ministry to make a success of this programme.
Steps have been taken to provide the dairy farmer with technical knowledge, grass lands,
cattle sheds and marketing facilities for their products. A thousand dairy farms with 25
cows for each of them are being setup island-wide. The farmers are also being provided
with low-interest loans for this purpose.
Two thousand Friesian and Jersey cows have been imported from Australia for boosting
the industry. These animals are adaptable to the hill country and dry zone climates.
Further 22,500 more such cows will be imported. The calves born to them through
artificial insemination will be sold to dairy farmers at reasonable prices. Already the cows
first imported have given birth to 2200 calves. After the birth of a calf a dairy cow can be
milked for 305 days generally.
On March 14, 2012 the Government launched in Nuwara Eliya a programme to
distribute a glass of fresh milk of 150 mililitres free to school children each to raise their
nutrition level since the highest cases of malnutrition were reported from that district.
Soon steps will be taken to distribute liquid milk through cooperatives at concessionary
prices among other residents of the district.
The number of registered dairy farmers in Sri Lanka is 238,322. In addition there are
nearly 100,000 unregistered small dairy farmers. The annual production of milk is 204
million litres from 251,490 cows. There are also 86,226 buffalos which anually produce
55 million litres of milk. The daily production of milk in the country is 800,000 litres.
To make Sri Lanka completely self-sufficient in milk production should be increased
750million litres anually by 2016 from the present 320million litres. Meeting this
challenge is the task of the Economic Development Ministry under Basil Rajapaksa in
accordance with the Mahinda Chinthana Vision.
At present only 42 percent of the milk the country requires is produced locally. The
balance 58 percent is imported. During the period the present Government was in power
from 2005 to 2012 the total milk production increased by 128 million litres. It is a 56
percent increase. The number of cows has also increased by 155,000. If 300,000 more
dairy cows can be milked, the country can be made self-sufficient in liquid milk.
The only obstacle to make Sri Lanka self-sufficient in liquid milk is imported powdered
milk which has no nutritional value. If powdered milk is necessary it is far more
preferable to consume locally produced powdered milk.
The programme to import dairy cows from Australia and distribute the calves among
dairy farmers at concessionary prices should be expedited if the livestock industry is to be
strengthened. At the same time adults and children should be educated on the need to
consume only locally produced milk and milk products. It will not only safeguard their
health but will also save US dollars 300 million in foreign exchange annually for the
country. (KH)

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