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Fonterra farmers to support Sri Lankan colleagues

Four Fonterra farmers will travel to Sri Lanka this year as part of a new farmer volunteer scheme to work with Sri Lankan dairy farmers.

Troy Doherty from Bay of Plenty, Tim Phillips from Waikato, Murray Douglas from Northland, and Marloes Levelink from West Otago, will spend a month at Fonterra's new demonstration and training farm in Pannala, near Colombo.

While in Sri Lanka, they will work with local farmers and Fonterra supplier relationship officers on areas including animal nutrition, prevention and treatment of mastitis and how to run a farm as a business.

The new farm and scheme are both part of the co-operative's Dairy Development programme. It supports the growth of sustainable dairy industries in key markets where Fonterra operates, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia and China, by sharing its expertise and working together with local farmers, governments and industry players. The new farm, due to be opened at the end of this month, will help Fonterra and its partners to increase local milk collection, improve milk quality and lift farmer incomes. Managing director of Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka, Sunil Sethi, said the co-operative has been operating in Sri Lanka for 38 years and is committed to creating stronger farmer families by sharing its knowledge and expertise.

"Fonterra has over 100 years of dairy farming experience and our co-operative structure is built on innovation, an attitude of working together, and a willingness to try new things.

"This has allowed New Zealand farmers to develop practices and processes that work in New Zealand's unique environment and climate. This is what we're looking to bring to Sri Lanka, working with partners and farming families to find the best farming system that complements the country's climate and terrain. "Ultimately, through training and education, we believe we can support local farmers to produce higher quality milk which will create a more economically viable and sustainable local dairy industry to help us meet the growing demand for fresh dairy products," said Sethi.

Sri Lankan farmers aren't the only ones who are being given the opportunity to learn from Fonterra's wealth of expertise. 12 Indonesian farmers travelled to New Zealand last year as part of the annual scholarship programme that helps develop local dairy farming capability through hands-on training. Preliminary results show close to 90% of the farmers have improved milk quality and almost half are already producing higher volumes of milk as a result of new milk hygiene, animal care and farm management practices.

Scholarship participant Adieb Iryanto said he had introduced a number of new farming practices as a result of the scholarship programme. "I now keep records of my herd and financials, making it easier to track the performance and health of individual cows as well as the overall profitability and operating costs of my farm. This has allowed me to look at my farming business and see where I can make changes to become more efficient and productive," he said.

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