In an effort to improve dairy-based production in the country the Cabinet on Tuesday approved a proposal to import 20,000 dairy heifers from Australia.
Currently the country’s milk production only constitutes 45% of the demand and the rest is imported at a cost of Rs. 36 billion (2016) for all dairy commodities.
The project was first approved during the last Government in June 2014, where the contract for the supply of dairy cattle was also signed by the former Minister of Economic Development with Wellard Rural Exports (Ltd), Australia on 4 October 2014, Rural Economic Affairs Minister P. Harrison said.
According to the paper, the loan agreement of the project amounting to $ 73 million has been signed between the Finance Ministry, Cooperatieve RABO Bank U.A., Netherland and Export Finance and lnsurance Corporation (EFIC), Australia in December 2016.
The proposed project aims to establish medium and large-scale commercial dairy farms to increase national milk production and create employment related to the dairy industry. The ministry also expects to make dairy products available at affordable prices through the project.
The first stock of heifers will be received by Sri Lanka on 17 May 2017. They will be provided for farmers at a concessionary price and the required funds will be provided by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka under a relief loan scheme.
Beneficiaries of the first stage of the program have already been selected with conditions to provide employment opportunities for at least two Samurdhi beneficiaries in selected farms with a minimum of 10 heifers.