NAVIGATE
:

Importing cattle for what?



article_image

The total annual expenditure on importing milk and other dairy products is around Rs 40 billion. If we are to reduce our trade deficit, which was around US$ 10 billion in 2018, imports need to be reduced, and in this regard increasing local milk production is important.


To increase local milk production, the Government brought down 2,000 heifers from New Zealand in May, 2017. Again in December, 2017, 3,000 heifers were imported from Australia. The heifers imported were distributed among middle-scale entrepreneurs in Nuwara Eliya, Matale, Kandy, Kurunegala and Badulla districts. According to newspaper reports, the Government had spent Rs. 520,000 per heifer and sold it to farmers at a lower rate of Rs. 200,000. It has been reported that some of the imported cows suffer from Bovine Viral Disease (BVD) and around 200 out of the 5,000 heifers imported to Sri Lanka in May and December last year have died.


Simply importing high yielding cattle will not increase milk production, unless they are properly fed and appropriate veterinary services are provided. Cattle imported from countries such as New Zealand and Australia are not acclimatized to local conditions, and hence their productivity tends to decline. The farmers complain of insufficient pasturelands to feed the cattle. There is no appropriate programme to cultivate improved pastures such as Brachiaria sp. Napier and CO3. Pasture grasses can be grown under coconut but there appears to be no effective programme to improve pasture production.


It is foolish to import cattle to enhance milk production in the country without implementing an integrated programme to upgrade local cattle, making available cattle feed and improving veterinary practices in the country.


DR.C.S. WEERARATNA


csweera@sltnet.lk


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...