Sri Lanka to bridge knowledge gap in dairy tech with Dutch backing

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is setting up a training center boost to knowledge in dairy farming, backed by the Netherlands, which has one of the most advanced dairy farming and processing industries in the world.

“In the Netherlands, agricultural education has taken our small country from one of the subsistence farmers to one of the largest agricultural exporter in the world,” Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Sri Lanka Tanja Gonggrijp said at the launch of the training centre.

Sri Lanka Association of Animal Production (SLAAP), a group of private firms, the University of Peradeniya backed by the Netherlands have teamed up to set up the vocational training center in dairy production.

“The Dutch embassy did many analyses to better understand the emerging opportunities in the Sri Lankan dairy sector,” said Nishan Dissanayake, Senior Policy Advisor of Agriculture at the Dutch embassy in Colobo

“And our analysis is that the dairy sector needs more learning.”

The proposed Dairy Training Center will offer a qualified work-based learning path featuring recognized practical, hands-on skills, both locally and internationally with short-term courses and full-time courses certified by a partner university of the initiative.

The mememorandum of understanding to start the Dairy Training Centre was signed with the participation of Upul Dissanayake, the Vice Chancellor of University of Peradeniya, the President of SLAAP, Ajith Gunasekera and the coordinator of Sri Lanka Dutch Dairy solutions, Jan Jeronimus.

The center will have a dairy farming complex with 125-150 cows; a processing plant, machine storage, bunker, silos and manure storage for a standard farming business.

It will also have classrooms, boarding and lodging facilities and a separate set of livestock for practical study.

“We fully understand we cannot blindly copy-paste the things we do in the dairy sector in Netherlands here because Sri Lanka has a very different context. said the coordinator of Sri Lanka Dutch Dairy solutions, Jan Jeronimus.

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“But we are copy-pasting the underlying principles such as good feed, animal healthcare, reproduction principles, which are universal.”

Sri Lanka’s small dairy farmers grow cows which yield about 5 to 6 litres of milk, partly due to weak genetics, poor feed and lack of knowledge of caring for cows which leads to stress, some experts have said.

Even without any improvement in genetics, some experts have said that yields can be boosted in most cows with better feed and care that reduces stress, according to some industry experts.

Sri Lanka’s government imported and distributed high yield cows to small dairy farmers, but many have died or got sick. Sri Lanka also has a shortage of veterinary surgeons in many areas, according to dairy farmers.

Ambassador Gonggrijp says the global dairy industry also has practices that reduces the fall out on the environment.

“If you want to create a sustainable system, we should not only look at how much is being produced but also where it is being produced and under which circumstances,” Ambassador Gonggrijp said.

“And that is within this context Dutch interest in Sri Lankan dairy sector seeks for it be sustainable.

“We want to contribute to the dairy chain that is stable from all levels from field to fork or glass.”

“The food chain begins with the farmer and the farmer should be equipped with the tools necessary to properly dispose of and minimize waste and produce milk that is efficient with little waste of resources.

“Sustainability goes further than the field of course and should extend to the whole chain.”

She said the Netherlands government imposed rules on farmers to make the livestock sector more environmentally friendly.

“Sri Lanka has a unique opportunity to avoid these kinds of situations because the dairy sector is in its infancy,” she said.

“And by actually developing it straight away from the beginning, in a sustainable and resilient way you will not have such challenges at least in this situation.”

Climate change activists have claimed that methane and nitrous oxide from burping and passing gas of cows as well as manure helps trigger ‘climate change’. (SB-Colombo/Nov24/2019)

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