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US to support Sri Lanka’s dairy modernization drive

April 29, Colombo (LNW): In a bid to bolster Sri Lanka’s dairy industry, Alexis Taylor, the Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), conferred with Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe recently.

During the meeting, Taylor apprised President Wickremesinghe of the ongoing dairy modernization initiative backed by the United States. President Wickremesinghe warmly welcomed the programme, noting its alignment with Sri Lanka’s expansive efforts in dairy production across the nation.

The President took the opportunity to detail the Sri Lankan government’s endeavors in modernizing agriculture, underscoring the imperative of fostering greater participation of the youth in the sector. In response, the U.S. delegation affirmed their support for these endeavours, vowing to extend the necessary aid

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through Food for Progress (FFPr), funds the MarketOriented Dairy (MOD) project in Sri Lanka.

The project has two main objectives: increase the quantity and value of milk produced and improve the trade in safe and high quality milk.

MOD has six activities to accomplish these objectives: increase capacity of extension services, increase the supply of inputs to dairy farmers, increase the access to finance, improve the market linkages between buyers and sellers, improve the quality and safety of milk produced, and create andstrengthen the dairy association to better serve the interests of all stakeholders.

The project is at its mid-point of its 5-year project life, and the USDA requires an evaluation to assess if the project is on track to meet its targets and whether any mid-course corrective actions are needed in the time remaining.

The evaluation team engaged MOD stakeholders using Participatory Action Research (PAR) to understand the activities, outputs, outcomes and impacts of MOD’s interventions.

The team worked closely with MOD staff to ensure that data collected was useful to them. There were 59 key informant interviews (KIIs) and one focus group discussion (FGD) conducted with stakeholders, and the data analyzed using Atlas.ti software.

Enumerators interviewed 211 dairy producers, of which 186 were MOD dairy farmers and 31 were dairy producers but not currently participating in MOD’s intervention). The 31 N-MOD producers were registered to enter as MOD participants in the future, and they served as a counterfactual group.

The annual increases in milk production by MOD farmers is falling below the projection made at the baseline. The estimate for the end of project target of 87,820 MT was too high, in part because processors were solely responsible for nominating producers achieving 39.6 l/d for a 180 day lactation at the baseline.

Processor interviews and government data at the baseline indicated there were sufficient numbers of producers plus large scale dairies (LSDs). 

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