According to the World Food Programme, Sri Lanka has levels of acute malnutrition – ranging between 14 and 35 percent in the districts surveyed. A national nutrition survey found that there is a 19.6% prevalence of wasting. Malnutrition is considered to be an obstacle for socio-economic development in the country, which has a growing population of 21 million.
Meanwhile, according to the Ministry of Agriculture in, less than 40% of milk demand is produced locally. Yields per cow are still low at less than two litres per day. According to the IFCN Dairy Research Network, milk production has been increasing at around 10 percent per year with good potential for growth in the sector.
Another challenge for Sri Lanka is being highly vulnerable to climate change. An island nation with extreme weather events and recurrent natural disasters, it ranks second in the Global Climate Risk Index.
To address these challenges, the government of Sri Lanka launched a school milk programme in 2019. The new programme is initially covering 400,000 children across 950 schools and is using 100 percent locally produced UHT milk. It is fully funded by the government and implemented by the Ministry of Education. Our customer Cargills Ceylon started supplying milk in Tetra Fino® Aseptic 150ml packages to 185,000 school children in 400 schools out of the total.
The Tetra Pak South Asia and Tetra Laval Food for Development team supported our Cargills and the Ministry of Education by providing technical assistance based on best practice from school feeding programmes across the world. As part of our support, essential training was provided to our customer and the Ministry of Education's implementation team on proper food safety protocols, environmental education and recycling. Tetra Pak has also identified and engaged a local partner to collect and recycle the used cartons from the schools.
Children from the 400 participating schools are now taking part in workshops on ensuring recycling of used cartons and environmental education activities are also being rolled out in more schools.
The school milk programme has the objectives of boosting milk production and providing locally sourced quality nutrition. The Ministry of Education is measuring nutritional indicators among children, such as height and weight and how the improved attendance can eventually impact learning outcomes.
We are continuing to provide technical assistance support and training on food safety protocols and working with our partners to scale up the collection and recycling infrastructure. As a long-term objective, we look forward to continuing to provide technical assistance and training to farmers working through our Dairy Hub model to increase milk production.