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NDDB, Amul to provide technical support to enhance milk production in Sri Lanka

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This move by Amul is aimed at reducing the cash-strapped country’s dependence on imported milk products.

New Delhi: India will provide technical support to Sri Lanka to enhance its dairy industry and milk output, a move aimed at reducing the cash-strapped country’s dependence on imported milk products, the Sri Lankan President’s Office said on Monday.

Officials of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), which markets milk under the Amul brand, have taken steps to provide necessary technical support for the production of milk in Sri Lanka, the President’s Media Division said in a statement.

A preliminary discussion was held on the issue at the Presidential Secretariat on Monday, it said.

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe has also appointed a panel consisting of representatives from the public and private sectors to work with the multi-disciplinary 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, it said.

During Monday’s meeting, plans were discussed 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 programme, it said.

Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Nimal Samaranayake, Chairman of the National Dairy Development Board, Professor H.W. Cyril and other committee members and officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and line agencies, Indian National Dairy Development Board Senior General Manager Rajesh Onkarnath Gupta, General Manager Sunil Shivprasad Sinha, Senior Manager Rajesh Kumar Sharma and other representatives participated in the discussions, it said.

The move by the Sri Lankan government is also aimed at providing food security at a time when the country has reported a surge in the cases of malnutrition among children.

Earlier this month, Dr Chitramali de Silva, the bureau director of the health ministry’s family health bureau, said that severe acute malnutrition among children had increased to 1.4 per cent this year up from 1.1 per cent.

The health ministry’s comments came days after the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said that at least 56,000 children in Sri Lanka currently suffer from severe acute malnutrition.

According to the latest figures published by the WFP, 32 per cent of households are now food insecure, and 68 per cent of households are turning to food-based coping strategies such as eating less preferred food or reducing the number of meals and portion sizes.

Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, plunged into financial and political turmoil earlier this year as it faced a shortage of foreign currencies.

Due to this, the country has been unable to afford key imports, including fuel, fertilisers, and medicines, leading to serpentine queues.

The crisis led to shortages of essentials as the island was not able to fund imports due to foreign exchange shortages.

Street protests against the government for its mishandling of the economy led to the ouster of the then president Gotabaya Rajapaksa mid-July.

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