A trade delegation from the dairy sector in the Netherlands visited Sri Lanka recently. The delegation included companies specializing in storage of feed, processing and cooling equipment, technology consultation, renewable energy, agricultural machinery, finance and vocational training and education. Economic Affairs Ministry Netherlands Director International Agribusiness Sara Knijff led the delegation.
Following a field visit to dairy establishments in the Gampaha and Kurunegala Districts, the delegation participated in a trade seminar and matchmaking session followed by a networking dinner for almost 100 guests at Cinnamon Grand.
Highways and Investment Promotion Deputy Minister Eran Wickramaratne was the chief guest at the seminar. During his speech the minister highlighted the importance of adopting a multidisciplinary approach to deal with the challenges in the dairy sector of Sri Lanka. He further emphasized the need for the development of the dairy sector in order to ensure food security of the nation while maximizing land use. He stated that more efficiency in the sector would require an increase in farm size. The government would need to develop appropriate policies to achieve this objective while also dealing with the employment effects.
Knijff emphasized the need to develop the sector in a comprehensive way. A focus on one isolated factor is doomed to fail. Dairy production - ‘from grass to glass’ - is a complex chain of activities that needs an integrated approach. The Dutch experience could provide a very useful and relevant input for the Sri Lankan dairy sector. Many Dutch farms are still family based and middle sized and farmers still remember the days that milk cans were collected daily by the local processing company or cooperative.
Dutch Ambassador Louis Piët emphasized the long-standing relation between the two countries in the sector. Dairy cooperation goes back some 40 years and many Sri Lankan professionals have been trained in The Netherlands. This provides a solid basis for renewed engagement.
The matchmaking session organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce was a big success. The members of the mission and the participating Sri Lankan companies had well over 80 one-on-one meetings. These meetings provided all companies the possibility to find out quickly if there were future cooperation possibilities or not.
During this mission, Knijff and other Dutch government officials also had a meeting with the Secretary and senior officials of the Irrigation and Agriculture Ministry, where several bilateral matters pertaining to the agriculture sector of the two countries were discussed.
“This visit should result in long-term business activities which will contribute towards economic development in Sri Lanka and the Netherlands,” Piët said prior to the mission. After the mission, all Dutch participants in the mission expressed their happiness with their visit to Sri Lanka and several participants mentioned that they see very good possibilities for joining their forces with Sri Lankan companies or knowledge institutes in the dairy sector. Many of them promised to return to Sri Lanka and some of them said they will bring their families for a trip through beautiful Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka and the Netherlands have a history of working together in the dairy sector. In the past the focus was on development cooperation and knowledge exchange. Today the Dutch focus is on building and strengthening economic ties. This focus is beautifully reflected in the Embassy’s slogan -- Sri Lanka – the Netherlands; Old Friends – New Trends.