India’s Gujarat to chart out ‘milky’ way for crisis-hit Sri Lanka

The beleaguered dairy sector of Sri Lanka, which is facing its worst-ever economic crisis, will finally get back its ‘say cheese’ moments with Indian dairy majors set to usher in a transformation in the island nation.

And, the revival path for the country, which imports 60% of its milk and milk products requirement, has been charted out in Gujarat, the cradle of India’s White Revolution.
Sources said that Lanka plans to bring dairy farms currently managed by MILCO, a government-owned organization, and its brand, Highland, under the new joint venture.
Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe had last year appointed a committee with representatives from the country’s public and private sectors to work with the NDDB and prepare a roadmap to increase local milk production and reduce dependence on imported milk powder.

“We expect the details to be finalized within a week as we are close to concluding the necessary agreement,” said NDDB chairman Dr Meenesh Shah.

“The shareholder agreement, which will lead to the formation of a JV that will have Indian as well as Sri Lankan shareholders, is being finalized,” he said.

GCMMF’s vice-chairman Valamji Humbal said NDDB and GCMMF will have a 51 % stake in the new venture, while Sri Lanka is finalizing the local shareholder who will own 49%.

GCMMF, which will manage the commercial aspects like marketing and branding, is chalking out a business plan and the financial details. NDDB will take care of the development side of the dairy sector like setting up co-operatives, breeding, fodder, nutrition etc.

“This will be a major step towards development of the dairy sector in the region and upliftment of rural livelihoods,” said “We are finalizing the business plan and financial aspects,” said Humbal.

Interestingly, such a partnership is not new to Sri Lanka. Former Sri Lankan president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga had invited late Dr Verghese Kurien, the father of India’s White Revolution which had led to the formation of ‘Kiriya Milk Industries of Lanka (Private) Limited’ in 1998. But in the wake of labour issues, the project did not take off after which NDDB withdrew from the agreement while all the assets and liabilities were transferred to MILCO.