Dairy Enhancement in
Eastern Province

Boosted dairy productivity, improved market linkages and increased household incomes.

Farmers in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province have traditionally relied on rice and paddy farming to make ends meet. Most own one local breed cow, yet underdeveloped value chains meant that few farmers could earn a living off of dairy. Funded by USAID, the DEEP program established a functioning dairy value chain for nearly 4,200 farmers, 44 percent of whom were women.

Land O’Lakes provided targeted training and technical assistance in best dairy farming practices for farmers. As a result of trainings in milk handling, hygiene, transport and collection, milk quality increased substantially. DEEP provided 3,500 small grants for farmers to purchase improved breed cows or construct a cattle shed, with farmers matching the support with their own cash. By creating inclusive, democratically operated cooperative structures, DEEP also helped to minimize economic imbalances and rebuilt trust among formerly isolated ethnic groups.

Working with CIC Agri Businesses (CIC), a diversified Sri Lankan agricultural firm, DEEP formed a public-private alliance that yielded substantial economic profits through dairy. CIC invested $4.5 million into the dairy sector, constructed a feed mill and enhanced a milk processing center that used farmers’ milk to produce yogurt for nationwide sale. DEEP program staff explicitly encouraged women to participate in community meetings and trainings. Attitudes toward women as dairy farmers slowly evolved - many men acknowledged that women should be trained, given their primary roles in dairy. Many women advanced to leadership positions in cooperatives, and almost half the recipients of cash grants were women.

By reviving the dairy value chain, farmers have the skills, productive assets and market linkages needed to accrue additional earnings and sustain livelihood improvements.