The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce said at the request of leading industry stakeholders, it took the initiative to form the association to discuss relevant issues, reach consensus, lobby dairy issues and raise concerns with policymakers to improve Sri Lanka’s dairy industry.
The chamber said dairy is one of the most important sectors in the national economy, and has the potential to improve the livelihood and income levels of poorer segments in the society while fulfilling the nutritional requirements of the population.
Currently, Sri Lanka imports approximately 70% of its dairy products.
Though the private sector is actively involved in all levels of the dairy value chain, there was no active organized trade body to work closely with public sector organizations.
Fifteen charter members
Membership of the Association will comprise of individuals or firms engaged in farming, producing, processing, importing of dairy products and providing associated services.
Fifteen leading companies representing the dairy industry have already joined the association, while many other companies have shown keen interest in enrolling as members, the chamber said.
At the formation meeting, Dhara Wijayatilake, CEO of the chamber, and the 15 founder members adopted a constitution and elected an executive committee.
Elected president was Nishantha Jayasooriya, CEO of Richlife Dairies Limited.
Named vice-presidents were Binesh Pananwala, CEO, Watawala Dairy Limited; Janaka Gallage, director finance, Fonterra Brands Lanka (Pvt) Limited; Kumara Jayarathna, manager, quality assurance, research & development, Milco (Pvt) Limited; and Dr Susantha Mallawa Arachchi, general manager, animal health, Hayleys Agriculture Holdings Limited.
Executive committee members are Wasantha Malwattege, head of procurement, Ceylon Cold Stores PLC (treasurer); Amal Chandana, general manager, production, CIC Dairies (Pvt) Limited; Gamini Rajapaksha, proprietor of Hypromac Engineering Services; and Asoka Bandara, management consultant at Maliban Milk Products ( Pvt) Limited.
Plan development for government support
The association said it will quickly obtain the input of its members and all relevant stakeholders in formulating an action plan for development of the dairy industry.
The association will then engage the relevant government authorities to solicit their support for successful implementation of the plan.