President Maithripala Sirisena and Cargills group senior management at the commissioning of the Kotmale Integrated Dairy Production Facility in Banduragoda, Gampaha
The Cargills group this week commissioned the country’s largest multi-product dairy manufacturing plant in Banduragoda, Gampaha, as a part of its Rs.3 billion dairy expansion project which began two years ago.
The production facility was ceremonially opened by President Maithripala Sirisena on Monday and over 300 dairy farmers and their families representing a farmer base of over 15, 000 attended the event.
Cargills (Ceylon) PLC Deputy Chairman Ranjit Page noted that with a vision to be the most trusted Sri Lankan dairy brand, Cargills efforts are focused on being among the largest contributors to the national dairy industry.
“With the opening of this plant, Cargills salutes the efforts of Sri Lanka’s small holder dairy farmers and in turn makes the commitment to help our country achieve self-sufficiency in meeting the nutritional requirements of all Sri Lankans,” he said.
“The development of the dairy industry has the amazing potential to impact regional livelihoods, enhance the nutritional intake of our children while also saving valuable foreign exchange for Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka continues to depend on imported milk powder to meet the dairy nutritional needs of our children. Steps taken by the government to encourage dairy farming must be complemented with processing and sourcing capacities and it is our role as the private sector to invest towards long-term growth,” Page added.
Over the last 12 months, Cargills has collected 42 million litres of fresh milk from small farmers, generating a direct income of Rs. 2.8 billion for rural Sri Lanka and saving US $ 20 million in foreign exchange to the country in the last financial year.
Cargills entered the dairy industry in 2002 through the acquisition of an ice cream facility owned by a multi-national company.
This plant that was shutdown at the time of acquisition was transformed to utilize fresh milk; a move that was in tandem with Cargills’ philosophy to create value for rural Sri Lanka through business.
This facilitated the empowerment of thousands of dairy farmers through commercial scale farming.
“Over the years, Cargills has invested over Rs. 5 billion in developing a range of dairy production lines while enhancing infrastructure and logistics support to increase the sourcing of fresh milk from small dairy farmers,” Cargills (Ceylon) PLC Managing Director Imtiaz Wahid said.
“A Rs. 3 billion dairy expansion project rolled out by us during the last two years has resulted in the development of a full range of dairy products, including UHT milk, yoghurts, drinking and stirred yoghurt, curd, cheese and a substantial increase in ice cream production facilities with the latest technology.
The investment also led to the establishment of unique processing and storage capabilities that would allow Cargills to overcome the seasonal fluctuations of milk production, and thereby source the full supply of milk from farmers during gluts and maintain prices during scarcity,” he added.
Cargills currently collects 125, 000 litres of fresh milk from over 15, 000 dairy farmers daily and has launched a number of initiatives to engage with farmers, going beyond its role as a buyer of local dairy.