Lack of veterinary drugs for cows, spare parts for refrigeration centers aggravate the situation
by Sanath Nanayakkare
The All Island Dairy Association (AIDA) yesterday urged the government to take immediate action to prioritize the import of quality cattle feed amid declining dairy production in the country.
They point out that proper micronutrients and vitamins from quality imported foods are an essential part of their industry, as livestock are a key part of the supply chain.
They say it is imperative that feeds such as corn silage are readily available as this would go a long way in sustaining the industry as feeding cattle corn silage as their primary feed and source of protein has a positive impact on milk production, milk composition, the body. weight change and quality of cow’s milk by-products.
AIDA says import restrictions due to the currency crisis are crippling their industry for these reasons.
Binesh Pananwala, President of AIDA, said, “As an industry with infinite potential to help the economy, the dairy industry is one of the most important industries in the country. However, rising costs, scarcity of feed, vitamins, fuel and fertilizer requirements for different forage crops, and the difficulty of importing corn have greatly jeopardized the industry’s survival.
“The lack of quality animal feed has greatly disrupted the supply chain of the dairy industry. If cattle do not receive essential micronutrients and vitamins from corn silage, the physical well-being of cows is affected, which affects milk production. Veterinary professionals have also continually expressed concern over shortages of drugs such as antibiotics and anesthetics needed for operations,” he said.
ACH Munaweera, Consultant and Managing Director of AIDA, said: “The impact of the currency crisis is being felt in multiple aspects of our industry. The industry is already struggling to support itself and we are unable to meet the demand for fresh milk and powdered milk. Milk production has already gone down a lot and if not corrected it will be a disaster for the industry in the near future,” he said.
“The government of Sri Lanka has granted permits for importing maize on a case-by-case basis. But fodder importers and dairy companies are struggling to import these inputs due to lack of foreign exchange and banks are struggling to honor Letters of Credit (LC) for importers to send the raw materials we need” , they said.
Nishantha Jayasooriya, Past President of AIDA, said, “The whole industry has felt the huge impact of the crisis. Breeders, producers, input suppliers and distributors have all been affected by rising costs and lack of resources. If conscious decisions and changes in fiscal and supervisory policy are not made, the industry will suffer even more as it will not be able to meet the demand for fresh milk and powdered milk.
Gamini Rajapaksha, Treasurer of AIDA, said, “Processing and adding value is an integral and vital part of the dairy industry. The shortage of foreign exchange and the consequent scarcity of fuel, electricity, etc. harmed transformers. Some of the major dairies cannot operate their factories due to lack of electricity, forcing them to deny milk supplies from farmers. This has directly affected the livelihoods of rural dairy farmers. Cooling tanks at milk collection centers cannot operate, resulting in the rejection of large volumes of milk. Another aspect is the import of equipment and spare parts for dairy processing plants. Many dairy factories will be forced to completely halt production unless they are able to import spare parts in the coming weeks. If urgent measures are not taken to remedy the situation, the entire dairy industry will come to a standstill.