July 23, Colombo: The 'Kiren Sapiri Dayak', the national program to provide a pack of liquid milk to every child will be inaugurated under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena today (23).
The program launched under Grama Shakthi People's Movement together with Ministries of Education, Health and the Livestock Department and many other public and private stakeholders aims to provide a packet of liquid milk to around 600,000 selected primary students island-wide.
The Programme under President Sirisena's concept of creating a 'Nutritious young generation of a nation bountiful with milk,' is coupled with a plan to boost local milk production by providing incentives to dairy farmers.
The Cabinet of Ministers has approved a Cabinet Paper presented by the President and allocated Rs. 1 billion to initiate the program. Of the 1.7 million schoolchildren in Grades 1 to 5, more than half a million will receive a packet of milk each, on every school day.
Under this Private Public Partnership (PPP) program, small and middle level entrepreneurs in villages will be able to set up milk production units at village level with the support of the private sector.
The school milk program is to be augmented by the Grama Shakthi village empowerment program. It is proposed to provide 15,000 cattle to selected 7,500 villagers to ensure continuous milk supply. Private sector companies that will produce the packets will enter into buy-back agreements with the Grama Shakthi village units.
The Grama Shakthi People's movement aims at empowering people by initiating joint ventures between the village committees and private sector companies. Initially, the Government will provide funds to the village committees for technological support and buyback arrangements with the private sector. Once the project is launched, the Government will not intervene and it will be entirely for the village committees to carry out the project and reap the benefit.
Milk production is expected to increase with the additional demand for milk. The current production is around one third of the requirement and the balance is met with imported milk powder. More than 100,000 metric tons of powdered milk is imported annually at a cost of over US$ 380 million.
The school milk program has multiple aims as it envisages increasing the nutrition level of children in the country and making Sri Lanka self-sufficient in liquid milk by strengthening the local dairy industry.