Dairy sector is one of the important sectors of the national economy that has high potential for improving the livelihood and income levels of poorer segments in the society whilst fulfilling the nutritional requirements of the population. Currently, Sri Lanka imports approximately 70 percent of its dairy products requirements spending considerable foreign exchange. Successive Governments have embarked on various initiatives to increase local production with the objective of reaching self-sufficiency in milk production. Though the private sector is actively involved in all levels of the dairy value chain, there is no active organized trade body to work closely with the public sector organizations to achieve this goal. In order to fulfill this long felt need, at the request of leading industry stakeholders, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has taken the initiative to form the Dairy Association of Sri Lanka to facilitate the sector to deliberate on matters of relevance, reach consensus and lobby their issues and concerns with policy makers for upliftment of the Sri Lanka’s dairy industry.
The main objective of the Association is to serve as the central forum for consensus building amongst different stakeholders within the dairy industry and to promote the local dairy industry to make it more competitive in the marketplace. The membership of the Association will comprise of individuals or firms engaged in farming, producing, processing, importing of dairy products and providing associated services. Fifteen (15) leading companies representing above sub sectors of the dairy industry has already joined the Association, while many other companies have shown their keen interest in enrolling as members.
The formation of The Dairy Association of Sri Lanka took place on the 22nd of February 2017 at the Board Room of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce officiated by Mrs. Dhara Wijayatilake, CEO of the Chamber with the participation of 15 founder members. At the first meeting of the Association, the Constitution of the Association was unanimously adopted by the members present and following were elected as members of the Executive Committee, the key decision making body of the Association.
President, Mr. Nishantha Jayasooriya, Chief Executive Officer of Richlife Dairies Limited. Mr. Binesh Pananwala, Chief Executive Officer, Watawala Dairy Limited, Mr. Janaka Gallage, Director Finance, Fonterra Brands Lanka (Pvt) Limited, Mr. Kumara Jayarathna, Manager, Quality Assurance, Research & Development of Milco (Pvt) Limited and Dr. Susantha Mallawa Arachchi, General Manager, Animal Health Hayleys Agriculture Holdings Limited are the elected Vice Presidents of the newly formed Association.
Mr. Wasantha Malwattege, Head of Procurement, Ceylon Cold Stores PLC (treasurer), Mr. Amal Chandana, General Manager, Production of CIC Dairies (Pvt) Limited, Mr. Gamini Rajapaksha, proprietor of Hypromac Engineering Services and Mr. Asoka Bandara, Management Consultant of Maliban Milk Products ( Pvt) Limited will function as the Executive Committee members.
The new Executive Committee agreed on the need to identify the issues facing the dairy industry and focus on addressing a few key issues as a priority during it is first year of operation. The Association will obtain inputs of members of the Association and all relevant stakeholders in formulating an Action Plan for development of the dairy industry within a short period. After formulating the Action Plan, the Association will engage the relevant Government Authorities and to solicit their support for successful implementation of the Action Plan. The Association envisages making a concerted effort to develop the Sri Lanka dairy industry for the betterment of all stakeholders in the industry and expects to get all stakeholders in the dairy industry to rally round the Association making it a truly representative trade body for the dairy industry.