14 July, 2020

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Milk – Need For A ‘New Beginning For Fresh Milk In Sri Lanka’

By Thangamuthu Jayasingam

Dr. Thangamuthu Jayasingam

World Milk day is on June 1 each year since 2001, facilitated by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) and has a great significance with COVID-19 where local resources and values are being recognized by people at large. 

India is the largest milk producing country in the world with around 150 million Metric tons of milk and per capita production of 300 ml milk per day, a cup for each person. Dairy has been part of the culture and livelihood that supports the entire nation and has also been a source of economy.

Unfortunately, though Diary is a part of the Sri Lankan culture, life and economy milk had been a neglected source for variety of reasons. We import around 75,000 tons of Milk powder to the tune of 400 million dollars annually. Recently the Corona (COVID-19) had stressed the value of ‘our own food and nutrition’ for immunity and survival and save of foreign exchange. Here may be an opportunity for us to seriously consider investment and support. There had been periods of ‘plain tea and hakuru’ which supported the revival of our economy and if so we could do it again. Drink ‘fresh milk and drink daily’ for a heap of reasons. There had been also sentiments expressed against it from certain quarters but rarely anyone had any to say against the products  yoghurt, curd, paneer, ghee and newly frozen yoghurt taking ice cream into competition. 

Our production is only around 35-50% of our need at present ad we cannot expect to leap from our stand but progress slowly. Most of the production is from around 1-1.5 liters of milk per day per animal in the dry zone  and  if this could be taken to an average of 3 liters per day we would be reaching nearly double in many places. One of the key drawback has been that the dairying is still not considered as a profession but a ‘side business’. Those who have large herds even refuse to milk but leave it for trade elsewhere. It is essential that this changes to the benefit of the county in terms of nutrition, economy, foreign exchange and under the current trend ‘enhancement of livelihood’. There needs to be state assistance for cattle feed as that becomes the most expensive component in the chain while exploring better options for cheaper cattle feed utilizing our natural resources. There would/should  be no objection really to change the maize, soybean, fishmeal to anything that would substitute the nourishment to the cattle in principle. There needs to be a drive to get back to our traditional value of dairy in the system may be away from the powder milk culture that had become a practice for convenience. Though recognize the  Melamine and  herbicide mixings in milk powder and many more ill effects we tend to forget them but consider ‘convenience’ as the most important objective. But today CORONA had made us think twice about conveniences alone and track back to indigenous values of food and habits. Consumption of Milk may be one on that line. Afterall, millions of people over centuries in many countries cannot be wrong consuming fresh milk. Rarely stated is that in all the ‘developed countries’ fresh milk is the ‘pasteurized milk’ (processed around 70 degrees Celsius and suddenly cooled to 4 degrees to eradicate the pathogenic organisms)  they take daily, which is available only in main cities in Sri Lanka and limited, unfortunately.

It has become a practice of the buyer to ask ‘how long does it keep’ which may not be the best question for Milk as it should be consumed as early as possible. ANY product which has longer shelf life will have many additives for protection or have lost the values in it to a great extent. India has introduced ‘daily milk’ for that day only. Fresh needs to be consumed early as possible and the Pasteurized milk lasts for around 4 days in refrigerated condition. It is advised that the milk is consumed as early as possible if it is available or as early as possible subject to availability and convenience. 

Let this 20th International Milk day facilitated by FAO be a recognition for the beginning of a new life to Fresh milk in Sri Lanka, an industry and livelihood that had survived the periods in history as a source of nutrition to all.

*The Author is a Professor of Botany and  Former Vice Chancellor of Eastern University. He was also the founder of the JUGAS AGRO DAIRIES at Chenkaladi, producing fresh milk, youghurt, panner, flavoured milk, curd and other products which was also marketed in Colombo during that period.   

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Latest comments

  • 5
    0

    Absolutely a very useful write up on a subject that is most vital in the present situation marred by COVID19 pandemic spread. All tributes should go to Professor Dr. Thangamuthu Jayasingam for highlighting the most important facts about actual situation with regard to milk. Back in the days in our country no one ever heard of milk powder and usage of fresh milk was the order of the day. Gradually our essential item of fresh milk has been losing its ground to evil and unhealthy milk powder due to the influence the multinational companies trying to jeopardize the local production. Milk powder pauses numerous risk factors to our health especially in the light of multiples of illness such as diabetes, respiratory symptoms and many more you name we have them. COVOID19 though a deadly virus but it gave us window of opportunities to assess the situation of where we are. Annual import of US$400 MILLION is no joke and it is high time we take a pledge not to consume milk powder and only fresh milk.

    • 2
      0

      This is not a criticism of Dr.Jayasingham’s aims, which are laudable, but the methods he employs, which are similar to the scare tactics being secretly employed by the Pohottuwa regime . For instance the GMOA claims that palm oil causes cancer. If that was true, the entire population of Malaysia should be dead.
      Where is the evidence that milk powder contains SIGNIFICANT amounts of these herbicides/ melamine the author talks about? In any case, even fresh milk should contain herbicide residue, because cows eat grass.
      The other issues are cost and practicality. The author quotes India as a good example. But in India 500 ml of frozen milk costs just INR 16 on average. It is available freely, and due to this, a cup of tea costs only 7 rupees.
      Our costs are much higher and availability is low. Our electricity bills are far higher than in India. For the average family, milk powder for tea costs less per cup, apart from the fact that storage is easier. Just consider the current Covid-19 situation. If there was no such thing as milk powder, it would have been much worse.
      We must develop a cost-effective distribution network. Scaring people is not the solution for a bankrupt economy. Our governments could have done some real development instead of investing in fancy ego-boosting airports and harbours named after one individual.

    • 0
      0

      From an economics perspective, worthy topic. From the perspective of environmental impact, it’s lacking. Dairy industry is a big producer of green house gases, particularly methane. As we all know, Green house Gases contribute to global warming.
      ——————
      Dairy industry is a powerful lobbyist across the world. World Dairy Day is its marketing effort.
      We don’t hear of alternatives to the ever expanding dairy industry. We don’t hear of dairy free alternatives to nutrition. Alternatives are there. Millions of people do live healthily on dairy free diets.

  • 0
    8

    It may be useful mentioning that
    .
    India is home to 46.6 million stunted children, a third of world’s total.
    And nearly half of all under-5 child mortality in India is attributable to undernutrition.

    • 9
      0

      S. C. Passqual

      “India is home to 46.6 million stunted children, a third of world’s total.
      And nearly half of all under-5 child mortality in India is attributable to undernutrition.”

      Alright, you too seem to care about the children of India hence why don’t you advise your single handed strongman Gota and chief of crooks Mahinda to stop continuously begging money/funds/aid from India. Instead ask them to send some aid to the poverty stricken children of our neighbours.

      • 0
        7

        Mr. Native Vedda,
        .
        I almost forgot.
        .
        Sri Lanka
        Coronavirus Cases – 1,633
        Deaths – 11 (0.67%)
        .
        India
        Coronavirus Cases – 191,605
        Deaths – 5415 (2.83%)

        • 4
          0

          S. C. Passqual

          “””Sri Lanka, Coronavirus Cases – 1,633, Deaths – 11 (0.67%)
          India, Coronavirus Cases – 191,605, Deaths – 5415 (2.83%)”””

          You also completely forgotten about the following

          Population estimate
          India 1.353 billion (2018)
          Sri Lanka 21.67 million (2018)

          Estimated number of doctors
          India 8 million
          Sri Lanka 23,000

          Estimated GDP
          India 2.719 trillion USD (2018)
          Sri Lanka 88.9 billion USD (2018)

          Number of Nobel Laureates
          India not many only 9
          Sri Lanka 21 Million, particularly 15 million

          Defense budget
          India $33 billion
          Sri Lanka $1.9 billion

          Borders
          India 6
          Sri Lanka none

          Enemies
          India ?
          Sri Lanka 21 millions.

          Number of Oscar Won
          India 5
          Sri Lanka none

          Loans

          From India to Sri Lanka estimated more than $6 billion
          From Sri Lanka to India estimated more than (minus) $6 billion

          …..

          What Dutta Gamani told up country Tamils

          They are bringing an army from India. It will take 14 hours to come from India. In 14 minutes, the blood of every Tamil in the country can be sacrificed to the land by us.

          At last you have some advantage.

        • 4
          0

          S. C. Pasqual

          “Sri Lanka Coronavirus Cases – 1,633, Deaths – 11 (0.67%)”.

          What did your single handed general Shavendra Columbus Silva do with the 1,000 body bags he received from ICRC. Has he used every single bag in the pursuit of excellence in Corona Health.

          Does he also take care of funerals of the corona victims?
          I am sure he has a lot of experience operating in Kelani and Vanni area.

          • 0
            3

            And.
            .
            If you couldn’t understand.
            .
            2.83% Coronavirus Cases died.
            .

            • 3
              0

              S. C. Passqual

              “2.83% Coronavirus Cases died.”

              If so will your strong(mad)man account for the remaining body bags he received from ICRC?

        • 5
          1

          Sinkala Pasquali

          You are a copy cat but I knew you are a dump boy but this dump . I said this a few days ago but in the context of Gothas Lies. I went on to give my reasons as to why this disparity with similar hot weather conditins and it was because of Gothas lying machine But you couldnt elaborate. with limited ability.
          Gotha is a LIAR dumb boy.

          • 1
            3

            Maggot kali,
            Native vadda,
            .
            Ha ha ha……
            .
            Get ready for general election………

            • 2
              0

              Sinkala Pasquali

              I am glad you have got the hint. Stupid

    • 5
      0

      SCP,
      I sure you are part of the group of Mahinda family who live on billions made from importing milk powder like what you did with arms deal over the years.
      Dr. Thangamuthu is talking about self sufficiency of the country in milk which is an important part of ordinary Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. What a fraud group trying to destroy this nation.

      • 0
        3

        Mr. Ajith,
        .
        Don’t take everything in a political perspective.
        .
        Read the second paragraph.
        I quote.
        ———-
        India is the largest milk producing country in the world with around 150 million Metric tons of milk and per capita production of 300 ml milk per day, a cup for each person. Dairy has been part of the culture and livelihood that supports the entire nation and has also been a source of economy.
        ———–
        End of quote.
        .
        But in Indian society nearly half of all under-5 child mortality is attributable to undernutrition.
        .
        Don’t you think something odd.
        .
        Please note that good doctor is telling the truth.
        .
        Real issue is not self sufficiency.

        • 0
          4

          Mr. Ajith,
          .
          Please disregard my reply to Native Vedda,
          That is food for thought for a idiot.

          • 1
            0

            S. C. Passqual

            “Please disregard my reply to Native Vedda, That is food for thought for a idiot.”

            Fantastic, you are typing notes for yourself.
            A piece of advice, before you start knocking on keypad start thinking.

        • 1
          0

          SCP,
          So, what? Why do you worry about Indian child mortality instead of Srilankan child? Do you have any figures for Srilanka?
          I can remember those days every household in my village had a cow and goats which produce sufficient milk for the family. Now none of the houses has cows or goats and every household depends on imported milk powder. The governments in Srilanka not bothered to encourage local production. That is the point of the article. The article is not to analyse Indian child mortality or under nutrition or how the total production of milk is utilised for targeted children.

          • 0
            0

            Mr. Ajith,
            .
            I think you have misunderstood my comment.
            Ok.
            First……
            Author start his article quoting India. He gives a impression that India is already passed the self sufficient level.
            My argument was self sufficiency is not correct picture.

  • 5
    0

    The Cabinet decision to once again import cows from Australia without considering the disastrous consequences from importing cows by the previous government, does not appear to be a healthy course of action.

  • 6
    0

    Doesn’t matter cabinet decision, decision based on whose recommendation? with feasibility report.

  • 4
    0

    Importing milk and milk products and also fish and fish products into our country should be discouraged and banned..

    A balance between globalization and liberalization and a close economy is the viabll economic policy for Sri Lanka.

    It is the commondende approach.

  • 3
    0

    Importing milk and milk products and also fish and fish products into our country should be discouraged and banned..

    A balance between globalization and liberalization and a close economy is the viable economic policy for Sri Lanka.

    It is the commonsense approach.

  • 2
    0

    A BSc (Agriculture) holder once told me thar SL grasses are not suitable for NZ and Aussie cows because the grasses contain less protein. The best cows for SL would be the Indian varieties.

  • 0
    0

    Dear Sir

    Thank you for the article a case well argued.

    I grew up with Plain tea and Hakuru too and interesting hewn well we managed life then with bare minimums.

    If I may add that any future planning of increased self sufficiency/less dependency on import of dairy/dairy products should have a clear understanding of how we can manage the Environment Impact with increased number of cattle/herds etc.

    They have to be local breeds cattles/free range farming and even the milking should be humane. There is a serious argument against cattle growing not just for the meat industry but for basic dairy needs too. There are serious cases being made even the dairy products are suitable for humans consumption whatever the nutritional values etc. The world has learned a lot over the time from dairy industry and special breeds and the amount of animal welfare/environmental management that has been compromised etc. We are also limited by land mass with increasing population beyond sustainability.

    We need some feasibility/conceptual studies with all these scenarios included in the scope will reveal what is feasible/optimal/sustainable and should we invest in dairy or any other alternatives while we manage current needs with import etc.

    • 0
      0

      TV
      The fact is that the biggest exporters of milk products are very sparsely populated countries like Australia and NZ. We will find it difficult .
      Those who promote protectionism forget that there are consequences. You can’t have a closed economy and at the same time eat apples and have vacations in Bangkok.

      • 1
        0

        OC

        I agree and yes if were to trade with these Nations under WTO terms or be it via a trade agreement we will have to exchange goods with them. We have to balance what is effectively good for us at the same time how we can maintain good trading relationship with others who have as you have correctly pointed out have their established dairy businesses traditionally in the respective nations..

        If we were to embark on increasing our local dairy capability that may be ok (possible some room is their) as long as we have a clear understanding of what we trying to achieve by per say investing in a particular sector. All these respective study works should exist within our National planning with a healthy/clear basis & scoping such we can activate interest/investments as and when required.

        We need to be clear what we understand about our Geography/Nations population growth/land management from North to South and East to West as a Sovereign United Nation of People all is possible. What we can not afford to do is to repeat the same mistakes/blunders already made in the respective sectors in other countries and not applying the lessons learned in our future planning for our Nation.

        We Sri Lankans should pull our resources around the world to look at at each and every sectors in the respective countries and study how we can benefit should we pursue that particular interest locally. It has to be a very educated/informed/Scientific event selflessly explored by us for our Mother Lanka.
        .

  • 0
    0

    OC

    It is also vital we do our due diligence work as to the health effects of all that we import vs what we can produce sustanabily (QA/QC aspects for our population ) also should form part of the study that will draw the appropriate conclusions in making project decisions.

    We also need to make headways on consumer protection laws/consumer awareness and our own ability to do the lab analysis/research and development working closely with the customer/applicants of the businesses be it for imports or otherwise we have the capability to independently ‘verify’ against respective (our own) National codes and standards etc.

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