Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka today announced the construction of its first demonstration and training farm in Sri Lanka,as part of the company’s long-term investment in the growth of the local dairy industry.
The dairy co-operative, which has been operating in Sri Lanka for over 38 years, has invested overRs. 380 million in local dairy development over the past two years alone, and is committed to working with partners to increase milk collection, improve milk quality and lift farmer incomes.
Managing Director of Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka Leon Clement said,“We are already seeing positive change in the Sri Lankan dairy industry with the government making a meaningful difference through imported cow genetics and working with farmers.
“We believe we can help accelerate this change through consistent investment in training and infrastructure to improve farming practices and animal health,” said Mr Clement.
Located in Pannala and costing Rs. 117 million to build and operate, the demonstration and training farmis the next milestone in this commitment.
Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka will continue to scale up its investment in the country’s dairy industry, and by 2017 will increase its current network of Supplier Relationship Officers (SROs), who are dedicated to training and educating farmers on best practice, from 20 to 40.It will also build five new milk chilling centres.
“These efforts will result in the opportunity for an additional 2,000 Sri Lankan dairy farmers to supply Fonterra, helping to grow the incomes of farmers across the country.
“We also hope to build an additional three demonstration and training farms by 2017, however to do this we will need to find the right partners and available land,” said Mr Clement.
The Pannala demonstration and training farm will be operational by the end of February, and will employ administrative managers, animal care specialists and farm hands. Each year the farm will train around 2,000 farmers, with 180 days dedicated to training.
Completely funded and operated by Fonterra, the farm will share the dairy co-operative’s world-class dairy farming knowledge through farmer visits, field days, short course training and apprenticeship programmes.
Fonterra’s on-farm programme is made up of a number of key areas of focus including fodder, advanced animal nutrition, animal welfare, milk quality management and farm business management.
“Fonterra has over 100 years of dairy farming experience and our co-operative structure is built on innovation, an attitude of working together, and a willingness to try new things.
“This has allowed New Zealand farmers to create practices and processes that work in New Zealand’s unique environment and climate. This is what we are looking to bring to Sri Lanka, working with partners and farming families to find the best farming system that complements the country.
“Ultimately, through training and education we believe we can support local farmers to produce more and higher quality milk which will create a more sustainable and economically viable local dairy industry,” said Mr Clement.
The farm will include a milk shed,training centre, free stall barns, milk chilling facilities, and fodder cultivation area.
Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka is also committed to supporting its local dairy communities. Since launching its Grass Roots Fund in 2014, the dairy co-operative has contributed Rs. 15 million towards 16 projects in five dairy communities. Working with partners such as SarvodayaShramadana Movement and the Kansarmenn Foundation, the Grass Roots Fund has supported water, sanitation and other infrastructure projects.