Fonterra commits Rs 10 b to develop local dairy industry | Sunday Observer

Fonterra commits Rs 10 b to develop local dairy industry

Prime Minister Ranil Wickramesinghe at Fonterra’s Te Rapa factory

Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka will continue to focus on developing the local dairy industry through its Rs. 10 billion commitment.

Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka is part of the Fonterra Co-operative Group, which is owned by 10,500 New Zealand farmers.

During a recent visit to New Zealand, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and a high-level delegation of officials toured Fonterra’s Te Rapa factory. Following this visit, New Zealand officials have said that they will work with Sri Lanka to pilot New Zealand’s Farm IQ technology; a digital dairy farm management and monitoring system in Sri Lanka.

A Fonterra Sri Lanka spokesperson said, “The company is expanding its reach in milk collection, investing in new milk chilling centres across the country – creating an opportunity for additional farmers to supply their milk to support the growth of brands like Anchor and Anchor Newdale.”

“We will also announce another major investment aimed at improving the quality of local milk supply, by equipping our milk chilling centres with advanced technology shortly,” he said.

The company will also continue to work on projects which will raise the quality of life for its dairy communities through sustainable projects in Sri Lanka.

Demand for high quality dairy nutrition continues to grow. “We’re seeing strong growth across each category in Sri Lanka. For instance, we sell about 10 million Anchor Newdale yoghurt cups on a monthly basis,” the spokesperson said.

Fonterra works with a vast network of over 100,000 business partners island-wide, including agents, traders, distributors, retailers and farmers.

The company collects over 40,000 litres of milk each day from a network of over a thousand of dairy farmers around Sri Lanka, which is made into products such as fresh and flavoured milk, yoghurt and curd.

“Sharing our 100 years of international dairy expertise, we are committed to creating more prosperous farmers, and implementing sustainable projects to enrich the quality of children’s lives, helping to create happier dairy communities and build a stronger dairy industry. The company has invested Rs. 1.5 billion over the past three years alone to help uplift dairy communities, drive demand creation for local dairy products and strengthen dairy processing infrastructure,” the spokesperson said.

Fonterra also has a dairy development program that supports Sri Lankan dairy farmers by sharing international dairy expertise and providing training and education to them. “Opened in February 2016, our Demonstration and Training farm built at a cost of Rs. 117 million, is the first and only major private-sector funded training facility for dairy farming in Sri Lanka,” he claimed.

In the first six months, the company trained 1,500 farmers. Around 500 members of various industry segments (including livestock development instructors, veterinary surgeons, bank officers and university students) have visited, exchanged knowledge or attended training programs.

This is a unique example of knowledge transfer, where a dedicated team of technically competent, qualified individuals are trained by expert resources including a full-time international expert, and provided valuable opportunities to obtain exposure in New Zealand.

By helping to improve on-farm practices, average on-farm production has increased from 7.1 litres per farm in 2015 to over 10 litres in 2016, an over 40 per cent increase.

“To encourage and reward the efforts of farmers in producing clean, quality milk, we incentivise farmers to engage in the right practices– an industry first towards increasing milk quality. After a successful pilot project that led to a 20 percentage point increase in high quality milk supplied by farmers, the incentive scheme is now rolled out across all our MCCs.

“We have also piloted a Rapid Milk Chilling technology in Doluwa, where milk supplied by farmers is chilled to 40C from about 300C within 2-4 seconds. It’s a patented technology and ideally suited for small scale milk collection operations,” the spokesman said.

Alongside Fonterra’s development of the dairy industry, the Fonterra Grass Roots Fund was set up in 2014 to support local dairy communities though investments in water and sanitation, community infrastructure and community engagement.

This is a program made sustainable by true community ownership, partnered by the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement and the Kansarmen Foundation.

The Fonterra Grass Roots Fund has so far contributed over Rs. 33 million to 45 community projects since its inception in 2014, which have had a long-lasting positive impact and enriched the lives of more than 30,000 children, teachers, dairy farming families and community members.

The company believes that together, these initiatives continue to create more prosperous and happier dairy communities, thereby building a stronger dairy industry in Sri Lanka.

While per capita intake of dairy has increased from ¼ glass in 2008 to ¾ glass in 2016, Sri Lankans still consume less than the recommended intake of one to two glasses as recommended by the government.

“For example, the nutritional intake of children impacts health status, quality of life and learning achievements, and this is where dairy can make a difference.

At the same time, we are committed to uplifting dairy farming communities.

We are already three years into our ten year plan for the program, and so far we have invested Rs 1.5 billion to uplift local dairy communities through the program’s initiatives,” he said.