20,000 high yielding cows to be imported to boost milk production



By Nimal Dayaratne

Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development and Rural Economic Affairs Minister Vijith Vijithamuni Zoysa, yesterday, briefed the media on government efforts to boost local milk production by importing 20,000 high yield cows from Australia and New Zealand.

Sri Lanka entered into an agreement with an Australian supplier in this regard on Oct 14, 2014. However, the relevant financial agreement had been finalized on Dec 6, 2016 after the change of government, the minister said.

Addressing the media at his ministry, Minister Zoysa said that the government was planning to distribute 20,000 milch cows among farmers over a period of two years. Sri Lanka had received a USD 73 mn loan to implement the project, in addition to required expertise, he said.

Zoysa commended the then Economic Affairs Minister Basil Rajapaksa for having initiated the project.

Fielding media queries, Minister Zoysa said that the project was meant to enhance local milk production in order to restrict import. That would be a major boost to the rural economy, he said.

Having obtained Cabinet approval, on March 24, 2017, the government brought down 2,000 milch cows from New Zealand on May 12, 2017 and distributed them among 20 farmers. In Dec. 2017, 3,000 milch cows were imported from Australia and handed them over to 48 farmers, according to the minister.

The minister said 5,000 cows had been brought under the first phase carried out in 2017 and the second stage 15,000 milch cows were to be acquired.

The minister acknowledged that, however, the second stage had been delayed due to the failure on their part to provide the required assessment reports. The project was now on track with the Treasury releasing a part of the funds needed for the acquisition of milch cows, he added.

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