New Zealand farmer volunteer Murray Douglas working closely with a local dairy farmer along with Fonterra’s supplier relationship officers
New Zealand farmer volunteer Tim Phillips (left) visiting one of Fonterra’s local dairy farms
Over the past few months several New Zealand dairy farmers have visited Sri Lanka sharing their knowledge and expertise with local farmers, as part of Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka’s new farmer volunteer programme.
Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka Managing Director Sunil Sethi said, “Recently published National Livestock Development Board data (2014) puts Sri Lanka’s total domestic dairy production between 35 percent and 40 percent of demand and as a dairy co-operative with over 100 years of dairy expertise, we are focused on helping close this gap.
“Our farmer shareholders are world leaders when it comes to producing high-quality milk and their knowledge is built on generations of dairying expertise. This programme is focused on sharing this knowledge to help our Sri Lankan farmers improve their productivity and ultimately spearhead a more sustainable industry,” said Sethi.
As part of this initiative set up by the dairy co-operative behind Anchor, the New Zealand farmers have been visiting individual farms giving hands-on training covering areas such as better animal nutrition, improving animal health, increasing the quality and level of milk production and how to run a farm as a business.
One of the visiting farmer volunteers Tim Phillips said, “Much like us, many farmers we meet here are focused on keeping their animals healthy and love talking about farming. Most are doing their best to provide for their families and give their kids the best in life, so in that respect we have a lot in common.
“It’s great to be able to support the local dairy industry and help it to grow,” said Phillips.
The visiting farmer volunteers have also been working closely with Fonterra’s supplier relationship officers (SROs), who support a network of over 4,000 local farmers. They have been busy establishing healthy fodder plots and developing good farm systems at Fonterra’s Demonstration and Training Farm in Pannala that was opened earlier this year.
Farmer volunteer Troy Doherty said, “New Zealand farmers in general are very aware of the realities of having to run a farm as a business and we apply this insight to how we make decisions on our farms.
“When working with the local farmers we have met, we have focused on getting them to think more along these lines to ensure they get a good return for the hard work they put in, which will also allow them to eventually grow their business.”