One of the largest milk processing plants in Sri Lanka which is an investment of Rs 1.8 billion will be opened in Pelwatte next month. Pelwatte Sugar Company and Maubima Lanka Foundation Chairman Ariyaseela Wickramanayake told Daily News Business the new factory will collect 150,000 litres of milk per day benefiting 20,000 farmer families in the country.
The factory will produce cheese, butter, yoghurt, and flavoured milk including milk powder.
Apart from that a number of scientists, engineers, veterinary surgeons, distributors and technicians will get employment opportunities, he said.
Sri Lanka has spent US$ 300 million to import milk powder last year which is similar to the amount that the country spends for the Hambantota Port within five years. Therefore it is high time that Sri Lanka stops importing milk powder and utilized full potential of its resources to produce milk powder in the country, Wickramanayake said. Referring to recent media reports on increasing prices of imported milk powder he said that milk powder producing countries have no right to threaten Sri Lanka s food security by saying no milk powder will be given to Sri Lanka unless the prices are increased.
There are 1.5 million cows in Sri Lanka but only 250,000 cows are milked and if the country can get milk from 350,000 cows 70 percent of milk requirement will be fulfilled, he said.
* Price increase a blessing in disguise.
* Twenty thousand farmer families benefited.
* Large number of employment opportunities.
* 1.5 million cows in Sri Lanka.
Wickramanayake said that Sri Lanka has not utilized its unemployed youth to work in dairy farms but it is a lucrative job in milk producing countries and now those countries want to pay even higher salaries to their youth by increasing prices.
Therefore this is the time that Sri Lanka should motivate its youth to get employment in the dairy business and the Government must provide necessary infrastructure to implement this project and avoid various political parties taking advantage at a time of forthcoming election.
He urged the authorities not to increase the prices of milk powder at this point but to invest that money to upgrade the local industry protecting local farmers while giving employment to youth.
Wickramanayake said it is not difficult to meet country s milk requirement through Government run Highland factory and the Pelwatte factory together by utilizing the maximum capacity.
It will be much better than importing palm oil mixed and adulterated milk powder to our nation, he said.