For thousands of years Sri Lanka has been self-sufficient in milk and we have never imported any kind of food for that matter.
The countries that export milk to Sri Lanka were not even in existence at that time. We were not indebted to any country as we had never imported food commodities including milk. Pelwatte Dairy Industries thought it was time to put a stop to unnecessary wastage of valuable foreign exchange which is required to purchase the items that the country does not produce mainly fuel and large machinery. Foreign exchange should be retained to import absolute necessities and we have to refrain from importing items that can be produced in the country. Three years back Pelwatte Dairy Industries thought it was time to do what our forefathers did, to have our own milk at our neighborhood and if necessary to produce value-added dairy products with the daily excess production of liquid milk.
At present the cattle population in the country is over 1.2 million but we only milk 240,000 cows as per the Central Bank report. Currently we produce almost 50% of our national requirement and if we milk another 250,000 cows out of 1.2 million cows, we will be self-sufficient in milk and will be exporting value-added dairy products such as milk powder and butter.
Our neighboring country India was a dairy products importer, and once they imposed a tax of 167% on the importation of milk, India today is the largest milk producer and the consumer in the world, almost ten times more than New Zealand’s production. India’s national milk average per cow is 2.2 ltrs. As we have better weather conditions and domesticated cows we think we could be self-sufficient in milk once again and save around USD 500 million which we are using to import milk powder, butter, ice cream and various other value added dairy products.
We are in the process of getting our country self-sufficient in milk and provide employment for dairy farmers and dairy factory workers. The government is expecting to be self-sufficient in milk by the year 2016 and we are very confident we could achieve self-sufficiency in milk.
By achieving this we will be providing quality dairy products to our own people and be able to export the excess.