4 December, 2020

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More (And More) Of The Same!

By Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

A friend recently drew my attention to the fact that there had been a tripartite agreement signed between the Coconut Research Institute, the University of Peradeniya and Fonterra, the dairy products conglomerate, to increase milk production in coconut plantations, particularly those owned by smallholders.

To say I was bemused by this would be an understatement and let me tell you why.

This tripartite project, it is claimed, is intended to run dairy cattle under coconut and is being touted as some kind of ground-breaking initiative.

Half a century ago, at least, the possibilities of enhancing the incomes of coconut growers through mixed farming with cattle and sheep was investigated and a variety of exotic pasture grasses introduced (Brachiaria brizantha and Brachiaria ruziziensis among others) systems of fertilizer application developed to prevent one growing and producing at the expense of the other and associated issues dealt with. There was a record kept of this research and these trials and I would be interested to know what became of it and, if it is still not around, why it isn’t.

People like Dr. Appadurai of the Faculty of Agriculture at the Peradeniya University did some really valuable, if sometimes controversial, work in the field at the time and there has to be, at least, some part of all of that significant information compiled by the Department of Veterinary Science in Peradeniya, the Department of Animal Production and Health and an assortment of trade and agricultural entities still available. But when the CRI is headed by a septuagenarian who, it had to be by coincidence, was a schoolmate and good buddy of the father of the Minister who appointed him and the lead man on the Fonterra side probably knows as much about cattle as I do about advanced rocket science, what the hell can one expect?

As for the academic actively involved in this abomination, I am at a loss for words to explain his involvement.

However, it must be admitted that the first two mentioned share a most important qualification: they were both Mahinda Rajapaksa stooges. And that should qualify them, eminently, for positions of responsibility and authority under the Ohey Palayang dispensation don’t you think? In fact, it is one of the less well guarded secrets that the Fonterra official was hired by the dairy products behemoth, coincidentally I am sure, at a time when a conduit to the Presidential Palace was worth its weight in gold and, seemingly, paid in similar coin. Checking on what Prof. had to say with regard to this individual’s conduct in the matter of the post mortems held into the cold-blooded executions of the Action Contre Le Faim workers in Mutur might also prove instructive. Anyone interested in this piece of work could probably still access that information by resorting to the World Wide Web. But, oh, Professor had to be a Tiger because he was a Tamil and despite the fact that he had to flee Sri Lanka in order to escape a death sentence issued by the leader of the afore-mentioned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Mr. Prabhakaran. As for this individual’s conduct with regard to the four doctors in Nanthikadal hospital at the time of Prabhakaran’s last stand, shall we say that the primary command of the Oath of Hippocrates – “Do no harm by word or deed’ – hardly seems to have been his guiding light.

Briefly put, all of this is the unadulterated version of what comes out of the south end of a north-bound bull and is to my knowledge is perhaps without equal in the matter of a monumental waste of public money in the interests of a few individuals who should be spending their time far more productively studying a primer in livestock production. The fact that a (the most?) senior member of a University’s staff should lend the prestige of his institution to an exercise of this nature is beyond ludicrous and, in terms of the expenditure of academic time and public money, verges on the criminal.

I hark back half a century because I know it was that far back that the Coconut Research Institute led by Dr. W.R.N. Nathanael and with extremely knowledgeable people such as the late Shirley Corea and the late Reg. De Mel, as Chair of the Board, explored not only the needs of coconut as a single crop but the prospects of livestock husbandry in combination with it. I consider it one of the singular privileges of my life in agriculture that I had the opportunity of serving with such intelligent and dedicated people who, apart from anything else, provided a unique learning experience to a comparatively callow youth!

And if you want to check on my credentials in the matter of this facet of agriculture, I’d be pleased to offer you some writing done at the time and published in the Ceylon Planters’ Society’s journal, the periodical put out by the Department of Animal Production and Health (the first time they had ever published any material from a non-scientist) and from the journal of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, among others.

Blowing my own trumpet? I suppose you could say that but I also believe that I need to provide some proof that I am not some inexperienced Johnny-come-lately political stooge playing at “livestock expert.”

Incidentally, while it has already been proven that the import of dairy cattle can be a very lucrative exercise when the cows that are being brought in are dairy herd culls in the countries of their origin because they suffered from such serious maladies as mastitis, it might be interesting to know whether these pundits are aware that the only recognized dairy breeds that will survive and produce in the coconut-growing areas are the relatively-low-yielding Jersey or Guernsey breeds and that the Friesian Holstein, the primary dairy breed internationally, cannot be used without shelter from the sun because it reacts very negatively to heat stress and, if I remember right, is very susceptible to cancer on its udder, lips, etc. because it lacks adequate skin pigmentation.

However, one must give the benefit of the doubt to this triumvirate of unspeakable who probably think that places like Wariyapola possess climates as salubrious as some part of Holland, New Zealand or Great Britain. I also remember some despot in either South or Central America or Africa who afforded his own livestock the benefit of air-conditioning and this is probably what our triumvirate have in mind. After all, at least two of them have been nurtured in the Rajapaksa culture of total impunity in the matter of personal and public conduct.

Also, I have seen some writing recently that simply states that the Murrah Buffalo is likely the solution to the acute shortage of dairy products in the poorer tropical countries. It is hardy, long-lived, produces significant quantities of milk high in butter fat (something welcomed by the malnourished of Asia but abhorred by westerners facing “weight problems, is extremely “low-maintenance” in terms of its resistance to internal and external parasites and produces milk economically for a longer period than the so-called “established” dairy breeds.

But I suppose the Murrah could have one serious drawback: its import, use and development might not yield high enough side benefits for the primary participants and their friends and relations and the opportunities for fudging and fraud by virtue of comparisons being available just across a narrow strait that separates us from Mother India.

To classify this Tripartite Agreement and its aims and objectives, given the body of information already accumulated over a very long period, as a monumental waste of time, money and resources would certainly not be an exaggeration. The only explanation for it would generate accusations of conspiracy theorizing, except the the absence of anything resembling rationality cannot but leave an odour of deceased rodents in the air.

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Latest comments

  • 1
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    If things go wrong, I suppose that is because of lack of experience. Generally, a multinational always focuses only on the profit side.

    I heard militarily very advanced Russia did not have technology to produce coke cans and had to be imported.

    On the other hand, super power USA had to buy a mini – nuclear reactor from Russia in order to send their satellite probing the deep space.

    • 0
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      Excellent Analysis Mr. Emil!

      Today there is a big struggle both in the Agribusiness and Pharmaceutical industry, among competing multinational corporations like Fontera and Hoffman La Roache to capture markets and create monopolies, buy buying PROFESSIONALS like doctors and researchers in universities, in less developed countries in the global south. The dirty tricks and corruption of these companies is increasingly sophisticated and now they buy not only third world politicians but also professionals and professional associations.

      Fontera and A. Baur and Company products should be boycotted.

      Citizens for good governance should start a public education campaign, particularly of policy makers in the Medical and Agriculture field.

      Creating market monopolies, destroying competition, and driving up the prices of essential drugs and fertilizers in countries in the global south, where the people are mostly unsophisticated and the professionals poor enough to be corrupted is how these multi-national companies operate. Today there is a huge scandal in the US about phamaceutical companies driving up the prices of essential drugs.

      The Sri Lanka Doctors Union and its associated medical organizations like the Neurologists Association are protesting against private universities and medical colleges even as they are in the pay of multinational Pharmaceutical companies like A Baur and Company which is Swiss based that want a MONOPOLY on ESSENTIAL DRUGS, even as countries like Russia are now producing high quality advanced drugs far cheaper.
      Today there is a big struggle both in the Agribusiness and Pharmaceutical industry corporates to capture markets and create monopolies, buy buying PROFESSIONALS like doctors and researchers in universities in less developed countries.

  • 3
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    “” After all, at least two of them have been nurtured in the Rajapaksa culture of total impunity in the matter of personal and public conduct””

    HA HA,

    non other than Marwin Silava and Kudu dumiya????.

    what about 03 Raja passa Brats????

  • 1
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    Indeed undercultivation in Coconut and even Rubber plantations is nothing new. Why not get Filipino help if people want to raise sturdy, hardy milk producing cattle? They are world leaders in Buffalo research. One of my dearest friends is at UPLB and is a leader in Buffalo breeding for milk. His specially is reproduction of Buffaloes. Buffalo milk also has a higher percentage of milk fat and is richer in flavor. For my undergraduate Animal Science class, we milked both Buffalo and Cows and drank it straight after practicing hygenie. Buffalo milk is definitely better and for SL with skinny people a bit more fat might help in the rural areas.

  • 0
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    Dear Emil, many thanks for alerting us to the new Fonterra Game!

    Networks and partnerships of corruption is the name of the game the among played the multinational agri business, pharmaceutical industrial complexes , likes of Fonterra and A. Baur and Company whose case to build a an anti-cancer drug MONOPOLY in the Sri Lanka market back fired in Court recently!

    Actually, Emil, or CT Editors please, please, do an EXPOSE /write up on the dirty tricks of A. Baur and Co. which is selling massively overpriced and out dated Beta Interferon for Multiple Sclerosis (a little known disease in Sri Lanka) MS Patients after bribing, net-working and making similar “tripartite agreements” with the doctors of the Sri Lanka Neurological Association, who talked the Ministry of Health into paying for the million rupee drug whose side effects are worse than the disease!

    Baurs and Co, having cultivated the doctors of the Association of Sri Lankan Neurologists with various overseas joyrides and five star hotel events! So, please do an expose something about A Baur and Co. the widely diversified importer in Sri Lanka of agro-chemicals, pharmaceutical specialties, industrial chemicals, food products and textile dyes.

    Please check out Sri Lankan court dismisses F. Hoffmann-La Roche’s lawsuit to ban the distribution of anti-cancer drugs produced by BIOCAD. Check out the article.

    Hoffman and La Roach is the parent company of Baur and Co.

    http://www.colombopage.com/archive_16B/Jul05_1467697810CH.php

  • 0
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    Brilliant Emil! Keep up your great work and OUTRAGE.

    Corrupt multinational corporations are making another big push now that the NEOLIBERAL Ranil-Sira “keheda yanne malle pol govt..” with bi-partisan networks of UNP-SLFP political corruption and cronyism are well established.

    This was demonstrated in the Arjuna Mahenda- Alloysius/Perpetual Tresuries- Nivard Cabraal bond scam and insider trading show that has been on display at the Central Bank these past years!

    The same old shit is going down under the Ayahapalanay govt. with new and old actors.. and now the professionals are being bought up – a dime, a dozen!

    Bi-partisan networks of corruption are today celebrated as public-private partnerships by the likes of the World Bank, IMF and UN were “partnerships and networking is all the buzz.. the new panacea for GROWTH of INEQUALITY one might add – so that the rich multinational corporation get richer and the poor poorer the the Great Class War that is raging everywhere in the form of ethnic and religious violence.

    C

  • 6
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    You ask the question, “Blowing my own trumpet?”

    Would you ever, Pooten?

    We know of your credentials and your skills in milking the bulls in particular!

    • 1
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      Bluff Caller:
      Same idiocies,different pseudonym.
      See previous responses to assortment of pseudonyms.

  • 1
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    CRI and PU have learned people who need overseas excursions every now and then.

    Fonterra fits in well to get free tickets , free accommodation and spending money as well, on the back of Dairy Cows..

    This sort of collaboration among Universities , Research Institutes and Private Sector occur even in the West..

    Here Mr Poorten is trying to put the spanner in the works for his petty political reasons.

    What Mr Poorten should be doing instead, is

    Tell his followers how to avoid VAT,

    Stop Kiriellas getting LKR 25 Million each selling their car permits,

    And alert his Income Tax paying mates, how much they and their children and even grand children will be forking out to pay back Mr Mahendran’s and Malik Samere’s financial contributions to Yahapalanaya.

    • 3
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      Oh boy this buffoon KA Sumanasekera again. My eyes are hurting reading his name.

    • 1
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      Sumaney:
      See responses to your previous incomprehensibilities.

  • 0
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    Thank You EvdP for this copious load of dung, fresh enough to stifle my usual maximum intake of breakfast pittu. Regular readers would of course be inured to the regular exposition of the nonsense that is going on. Well now, it is hardly surprising that any position regardless of speciality technical challenges is fair game for those who would dispense favours in this Land Like No Other.

    Old habits die hard in this island in the sun.

  • 0
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    I’m no expert but I only know this: Gona Harenne Pol Paley Kanna…And have this project put Pol Pala and Gona in the same place. The outcome is…

  • 2
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    Emil,

    Reading your article, the words, Brachiaria brizantha, immediately triggered memories of Prof. Appadurai. He made these words sound like divine nectar, in his booming voice, in lectures. I am glad that you have also named him subsequently and given credit for what he did. He apparently died the night, Prof.Stanley kalpage insulted him, after he delivered a well and painstakingly prepared talk on the Post-Graduate Institute of Agriculture.

    As a person who has spent decades with the booming dairy industry based on high producing Holstein cows in Saudi Arabia, I am amused at what is unfolding in the dairy scene here. On the average a Holstein cow in Saudi Arabia produces 30 liters milk per day, over a 305 day lactation under much harsher climatic conditions than here and their calving interval is between 13-14 months!

    Thanks for raising the Fonterra issue. I strongly feel that we have to base our dairy industry on fewer, but much higher milk producing cows, grounded on the intensive model.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 2
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      Dr. Rajasingham Narendran:
      Interesting comment on Holsteins in the Gulf. Were they “free ranged” i.e grazing in the open or were they housed during the daylight hours and stall-fed in a “cut-and carry” system?
      The traditional method of raising milk cattle in coconut plantations, has been grazing them outside.
      Would appreciate your comments as someone who, obviously, knows what he is talking about.

      • 0
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        Emil,
        ‘The cows are not grazed, but fed under the shade, either along the fence line or along a center feeding alley, a Total Mixed Ration (TMR). The TMR consisted of fiber ( hay), Soy bean meal, corn grits and mineral mix. I an experiment one 1980,a composit silage made from caustic soda treated date palm leaf shreds , poultry Manuel, urea and sme corn grits were fed the cows. Their milk yields and reproductive performance, matched those of the control group.

        In these experiments the cows were kept in tie-stall housing and stall fed. In commercial farms they have the freedom to roam in fenced yards, but seek shade when they wish, the manure plus sand mix is sold as fertilizer periodically and is a source of income for the farms.

        The grass is grown under center pivots an made into hay.

        The largest farms have 25,000 + milking cows. The target standards for coliform counts is 30/ml. Most forms achieve this.

        Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

        • 1
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          Dr. Rajasingham Narendran:

          That was most interesting and, as someone who has had some experience with livestock both here and in Canada where I was once the Commodity Buyer for what was then Canada’s largest (cattle) feedlot, I’d be interested in having a chat with you about matters in which we both have an interest and about which we obviously have some knowledge.

          • 0
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            Emil,

            Thanks. I shall send my contact details to CT with request to be forwarded to you.

            Dr.RN

  • 2
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    Good to know that people like EVDP are around to push the plantation model, modern entrepreneurial style.

    All that was always needed was for the plantation owners to pay their slaves an honorable salary, so we(and America)wouldn’t have compromised the indigenous organic system with the American chemical and GMO model.

    Plantation owners therefore need to follow these rules :

    1) Reinvest their profits into the plantation industry

    2) Invest their profits in the Lankan education system, and for their children and grandchildren to be involved in education-system tailor-made for Sri Lanka’s needs.

    3) Create and invest in the Buddhist-Commonwealth-of-Nations that will practice the aarthikaya or artha-kriyava (similar to Dr. Appadurai’s undertakings) that Arjuna Seneviratne was speaking about.

    Indeed, EVDP should be on the board of governors of Buddhist-Common-Market.

    • 2
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      Ramona:
      Huh!!!!!!!
      You certainly are in contention with Sumaney for “Idiot of the year” (or ANY year)

      • 2
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        Now don’t be nasty Mr Poorten..

        We respect you because you are a living relic of our last 500 years of Mahavamsa..

        You become even more important now, with your new mate Batalanada Ranil commissioning another chapter for our Mahavansa,

        This is the covering the arrival of Vaculanbers and right up to Mr Pirahaparan’s reign.

        And you are an invaluable resource for the editors when they sit down to write it.

        I think you should consider applying for an advisory role for the Editorial Board of Mahavamsa, in addition to taking up that position which Theresa has recommended.

        • 1
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          Sumaney:
          Couldn’t be bothered reading your piffle. However, please see previous responses.

  • 2
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    Dr.R.N.

    Prof:Stanley Kalpage was a racist par excellence!

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