In April 2015, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) selected Mathanakumari to join the Supporting Opportunities in Livelihoods Development (SOLID) project, which helped improve the quality and quantity of her cattle feed. A year and a half later, her cultivation of more than two acres of sorghum and uninterrupted silage production have helped her feed nine cows and collect approximately 100 liters of milk daily. As a result of Mathanakumari’s success, this sole family breadwinner received an award as the best dairy farmer from Nestle Lanka PLC, a recognition bestowed by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.
Mathanakumari is just one of more than 2,000 rural dairy farmers in 15 districts who have benefited from USAID’s SOLID project since 2013. This week, USAID brought together SOLID partners from private and public dairy companies to review the project’s successes. On average, beneficiary farms have increased monthly milk production by 27 percent and seen their incomes rise by 35 percent.
“By helping rural farmers use international best practices to increase the quality and quantity of milk production, the United States is helping raise incomes, improve living conditions, and transform rural economies across Sri Lanka,” said Dr. Andrew Sisson, USAID’s Mission Director.
The SOLID project has received strong support from Sri Lanka’s leading dairy companies, including Milco, Nestle Sri Lanka, CIC Dairies Pvt Ltd, and Pelwatte Dairy Industries. The companies helped identify milk producers, organize workshops, and transport the farmers to attend SOLID programs. Local government officials also participated by convening and attending these events.
SOLID trained rural dairy farmers to produce high quality cattle feed year round; supplied equipment and material such as sorghum seeds, silage barrels, milk cans, grass cutters and choppers; constructed milk collection and chilling centers to facilitate regular milk collection; and strengthened market linkages with private sector companies.
“We are happy to see Sri Lankan government authorities such as the Provincial Departments of Animal Production and Health using USAID-supported farms as models for hundreds of farmers from other regions, as well as students, to learn best practices,” said David Dyer, USAID/SOLID’s Chief of Party. “Seeing farmer-to-farmer learning take place will help ensure that SOLID’s training will reach many more households with the corresponding multiplier effects.”
USAID is the development agency of the U.S. Government, and has provided development and humanitarian assistance to developing countries worldwide for 50 years. In Sri Lanka, the U.S. Government has provided over two billion dollars in aid since 1956.