24 Feb 2016

Fonterra farmers heading to Sri Lanka

2:07 pm on 24 February 2016

A group of dairy farmers will travel to Sri Lanka later in the year to work with local farmers there on a new demonstration farm being set up by Fonterra.

The farm, which is near capital Colombo, will open later this month and a Fonterra spokesperson said it would help it and its partners to increase local milk collection, improve milk quality and lift farmer incomes.

Fonterra has been operating in Sri Lanka for 38 years and four of its suppliers are going as volunteers.

One of them, West Otago farmer, Marloes Levelink, said she would be taking not only her farming skills, but also her knowledge as a farm advisor.

"We will be spending time on the demonstration farm and also with the local Fonterra representatives and spend time one-on-one with farmers and Fonterra people discussing things like nutrition, milk quality - a farmer to farmer information exchange and giving training on the demonstration farm."

It was interesting to talk to other farmers anywhere in the world, Ms Levelink said.

"What are you doing and why are you doing the things you are doing? The farming systems in Sri Lanka are very different to here in New Zealand."

Ms Levelink said in Sri Lanka there are a few thousand suppliers but with only two or three cows each, and they were hand milked.

"But they still have to feed their cows and they still have to supply quality milk," she said.