In building a healthy nation the services of the dairy farmer is not at all second to that of the paddy farmer who supply rice, the staple food of the nation. Despite the fact that we are almost self-sufficient in rice, it is indeed deplorable to note that we are far behind in that respect where milk production is concerned, Prime Minister said addressing a large gathering of dairy farmers at Temple Trees to vindicate their grievances on Thursday (30).
The Prime Minister also said that dairy farming was a lucrative business in rural areas in the days gone by and the gradual urbanisation of those areas with bulging population, necessitating the construction of more houses and roadways, development of penchant among rural youth to adapt a more sophisticated life style and the eventual disappearance of pastures were some of the reason for the degeneration of dairy farming. Besides it has not been sufficiently developed as an industry, the Premier stressed.
UNP regime had entirely neglected this industry during its tenure of office. But during the period of UPFA government we were able to take several steps for the development of dairy farming under the Ministry of Agriculture. UNP government not only neglected the milk industry but also inundated the local market with imported milk powder to the disadvantage of the local farmer and thereby enriching the western farmer, he said.
The prime Minister pledged that he would provide better marketing facilities for the local dairy farmer and also a cup of milk to each and every child in the school. Development of dairy farming means invariably the development of the rural economy. I hope to launch an accelerated programme of work to develop this industry, with the participation of state and private sector investors, within the first two years until a long term programme is initiated in due couse. I also intend to make awareness among the public, of the benefit of milk consumption, he said.
Some leaders are speaking of reawakening a Parakum Yugaya. They are the very same people who closed down the condensed milk factory at Thamankaduwa. I do not think that those who wear cowboy bell-bottoms would be able to dawn such a golden era. We should not forget that our expenditure on importation of milk powder is around Rs. 11 Billion per annum. This massive amount of money could be directed to uplift the local dairy farmer and ultimately to build a healthy nation if we adopt a progressive programme of work, the Prime Minister concluded.