U.S. Embassy Partnership Supports Dairy Farmers in the East
At the height of the conflict in 2007, Padmarahini Naharajan was displaced from her home and left as the sole provider for two children. She toiled in the fields and sold small quantities of milk to middlemen at low prices to make ends meet. Life was difficult until she heard about the Dairy Enhancement in Eastern Province (DEEP) project, a public-private partnership of USAID, the development arm of the U.S. Embassy.
DEEP, a three-year USD10 million project, taught Padmarahini and others how to increase the quantity and quality of milk production, and reach new markets, increasing income. DEEP, a partnership between the USAID, U.S. based dairy cooperative Land O’Lakes, and Sri Lankan CIC Agri Business, has trained over 4,000 dairy farmers, distributed 3,500 small grants, established milk chilling center cooperatives, linked 50 milk producer groups, provided modern dairy processing facilities across the Eastern Province, and linked dairy farmers with service providers and financial institutions.
On May 29, as the project neared completion, DEEP hosted an event in Batticaloa to share project results and lessons learned with key government, private sector and other stakeholders. The event promoted best practices through project publication “DEEP Success Stories and Lessons Learned.”
Most importantly, the event’s discussion focused on how to sustain the successes made under the project by dairy farmers like Padmarahini. From her training from DEEP Padmarahini increased her herd and milk production substantially. But the real transformation came when she and her neighbor, Jeyarajah, formed a milk producer group.
On day one, they were able to collect only seven liters of milk from the entire village. “We then started to visit nearby villages that we never had any connection with before, and mobilized residents by showing them the price we were getting.” Today, their group has 112 members across eight multi-ethnic villages who can sell their milk at a much higher price to leading private firms like Nestle and CIC.
“I didn’t know that I could manage my farm as a business,” says Padmarahini. Thanks to DEEP, she now spends more time with her children, who attend better schools. With her extra dairy income, she bought a motorbike to hire out, and saves money to build a new shed for her cattle. Back on her feet after years of misery, she can work towards a better future for her family.
- Asian Tribune –