By Sandun A Jayasekera
The government plans to import 2,500 milch cows from Australia in a bid to make Sri Lanka self sufficient in milk by 2025 and also restrict importing of milk powder that costs the government Rs. 50 billion annually, Cabinet spokesman and Minister Ramesh Pathirana said yesterday.
Minister Pathirana told the weekly cabinet news briefing that Sri Lanka’s daily production capacity of milk was 1.2 million litres and with the import of 2,500 milch cows from Australia, the capacity would increase by 100,000 litres a day.
”The daily demand for milk is 3.5 million litres and the gap is bridged by importing milk powder at a cost of Rs. 50 billion annually which is a huge burden to the Treasury. Under the ‘Saubhagya’ (Prosperity) programme, the government expects to be self sufficient in milk by 2025, Mister Pathirana stressed.
A memo to import 2,500 milch cows submitted by Agriculture Minister Chamal Rajapaksa got the green light from the cabinet on Wednesday, he added.
The goverenment decision to import 2,500 milch cows from Australia reminds of the import of the same number of cows by the yahapalana government in 2017 from Australia and New Zealand and 500 of the animals died soon after being shipped to Sri Lanka
The scheme was funded by an Australian Government loan of $100 million (Rs. 12 billion approximately).
The Auditor General in his comments on the programme in 2018 said cows were not thriving because of climatic conditions and diseases and recommended that the scheme be shelved.
- Daily demand for milk is 3.5 million litres and the gap is bridged by importing milk powder at Rs. 50 bn annually
- Govt.expects to be self sufficient in milk by 2025 under ‘Saubhagya’ programme