Dutch-Lanka dairy collaboration on the cards | Daily News

Dutch-Lanka dairy collaboration on the cards

Tanja Gonggrijp  Picture by Dinesh Perera
Tanja Gonggrijp Picture by Dinesh Perera

Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Tanja Gonggrijp said that since she began working in Sri Lanka she had found it difficult to find good milk and good milk by-products. Gonggrijp was speaking at a partnership session between Dutch vocational educational institutes and Sri Lankan dairy stakeholders. The event took place on November 22 at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

Gonggrijp said, “I did not like cheese as a child. The only kind of cheese I ate was the not real cheese, the happy cow cheese. At a certain point that changed. Now I am running around in Sri Lanka to find cheese that is a little bit like the Dutch cheese.”

She added “Dutch children start their day with a glass of fresh milk.

I have two boys and they have to take their milk. I have to be honest when I go to the food city we cannot always find fresh milk.”

The partnership hopes to create a self-financed vocational training institute in Sri Lanka. Gonggrijp said “In the Netherlands agricultural education has taken the country from one of subsistence to one that is the largest agricultural exporter in Europe.

The focus of this education from quantity to quality. Food must be produced with minimal damage to the environment and close as possible to the consumer to reduce transportation.”

Gonggrijp stressed sustainability as a core element of the partnership. She said “It has come to become more sustainable as an industry.

Our farmers are putting a lot of effort into that. The industry has moved from producing as much as possible to as much as needed and as much our small country can support it. The share of organic milk has grown. The share of cows that pasture outside has become larger while the initial production has slightly decreased.”

“For sustainable food chains we must look at not only how much is produced but the quality and how where and why. It is these questions that the future answers of resilient global food systems lie. No place is safe from the effects of climate change.”

She added “In the Netherlands we have hot, and dry summers and this has been disastrous for many crops. Farmers have suffered as well. According to many studies, Sri Lanka is much more at risk. I have been here for four months and when I ask people when it will stop raining they said they used to know. They don’t know now. In the global climate risk index, Sri Lanka is the second most vulnerable.” “A third of Sri Lankans are involved in agriculture. It is clear that Sri Lankan farmers need to be able to adapt to a changing world.”

Gonggrijp called on policymakers to look into animal welfare and a living income for farmers. Holland has 65,000 farmers of which 18,000 farmers are dairy farmers.

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