By Susitha Fernando
Colombo, Dec 5 (IANS): Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed a committee to work with Indias National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) to develop the island nation's dairy industry.
The committee consisting of representatives of the public and private sectors will work with the multidisciplinary team of the NDDB to prepare a short, medium and long-term plan to increase local milk production to reduce the country's dependence on imported milk powder.
"The NDDB and India's Amul Milk Company have taken steps to provide the necessary technical support for the production of liquid milk in Sri Lanka," the President Media Division (PMD) said.
"It was discussed at length about doubling local milk production by implementing short and medium-term plans and making Sri Lanka self-sufficient in milk in the long run through a targeted program," the PMD noted.
NDDB's Senior General Manager Rajesh Onkarnath Gupta, General Manager Sunil ShivprasadSinha, Senior Manager Rajesh Kumar Sharma and other representatives participated in the discussion with officials from Sri Lanka's Agriculture Ministry and the National Livestock Development Board.
Consuming mostly powdered milk, Sri Lanka imports milk powder from New Zealand and the island nation's monthly consumption of milk powder is around 6,500 metric tonnes.
According to reports, Sri Lanka spends around $400 million a year for the importation of milk powder.
Various governments have tried to stop importing milk powder and promote liquid milk as drain of dollars has become a major burden on the ailing economy.
Among other essentials milk and powdered milk specially for children went on shortage early this year mainly due to inflation and dollar crunch.
Shortages of other food items, fuel, cooking gas and medicine lead people to take to streets and topple the Rajapaksa government earlier this year.