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The Elephant in the Room is a Cow

February 25, 2016

The Elephant in the Room is a Cow

While media attention has been focused on the Sri Lankan elephant gifted to New Zealand, Prime Minister John Key will sign a dairy cooperation agreement with the Sri Lankan government this afternoon.

The agreement is good news for many Sri Lankan small-holder dairy farmers, as New Zealand is committing $3.3 million dollars over 5 years to extending Tearfund’s Wanni Dairy Regeneration Programme. The programme mobilises small-holder farmers to contribute to the local economy in Sri Lanka.

Tearfund’s Agricultural Specialist, Kevin Riddell, helped to design the programme. He has seen, first-hand, the impact that the programme has had on farmers and their families.

“The programme empowers Sri Lanka’s most vulnerable families, many of who were displaced after the civil war. Farmer families are able to get a high price for their milk, feed their children and put them through higher education. The milk cheques enable them to become self -sufficient and no longer vulnerable to the cycle of poverty,” says Mr Riddell

The price increase for milk sales is largely due to the improved quality of milk, facilitated by the programme’s chilling centres.

Over the past four years the programme has achieved unprecedented results:

• Average surplus milk collection per month has increased by 166,000 litres
• Average monthly contribution to the local economy has increased by 10.8 million rupees (NZ$120,000)
• The programme has grown from eight to 2,500 farmers
• Monthly production of milk has increased by 477%
• Average monthly income per farmer has increased from NZ$22 to NZ$121

The next phase of the programme is expected to benefit 7,500 more smallholder farmers and see 10,000 youth participate in the dairy regeneration programme. It is expected bring in 100 million rupees (NZD $1.1 million) per month, on average, to the Sri Lankan economy.

Tearfund’s CEO, Ian McInnes says “It’s fantastic to see the New Zealand government get behind this project. The Wanni Dairy Regeneration programme has exceeded all expectations and we’re very proud to see it expand to nine more districts.”


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