• Success Stories

    Sharing positive outcomes of beneficiaries

    Manure: from Waste to Value

    investing in environmental sustainability is good business for Sri Lankan dairy Farm

    As a teenager, Mr. Angamuthu from Hatton, Sri Lanka moved to the capital city, Colombo, in search of work. As a wholesaler of eggs, he was able to earn and save enough money to realize a lifelong dream of establishing a medium-scale dairy farm in his hometown. In 2003, he started a farm in Hatton with 20 cows, and by 2009, after investing in modern facilities, he incorporated Rothes Dairy Farm. Today he has about 250 cows and heifers, but the expansion of his dairy farm has also put his business at risk.

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    Process improvements increase milk quality and safety

    Improving milk handling process from farmer to milk chilling center brings returns to medium-scale dairy processor in Sri Lanka

    Based in Ratnapura in the south-central region of Sri Lanka, Chello’s collection of raw milk from over 190 miles away and from over 2,000 small-scale dairy farmers posed hygiene challenges for the business. They needed to keep improving on how the milk was collected, transported, and handled at the intermediate chilling centers before being transported to the processing facility via the chilled bulk tankers. Adopting hygienic best practices in the value chain has helped Chello Dairies reduce excessive processing costs and ensure quality standards are met.

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    Mechanizing an emerging industry

    Entrepreneur builds innovative solutions for small-scale commercial silage start-ups in sri lanka

    Mr. M. G. M. Thusitha Kumara has a vocational diploma in Engineering Sciences from the Institute of Engineering Technology in Katunayake, Sri Lanka. After working in the private sector, he decided to set up his own engineering workshop. Putting his electrical and mechanical knowledge and experience to use, he started developing machinery to make grow bags for horticulture nurseries out of coir, a natural fiber extracted from the outer husk of coconut. Grow bags are the most desirable medium for horticulture nursery plants to grow in a soil-free environment.

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    Father and Son Duo Breaking Boundaries in Fodder Cultivation

    A retired veteran and son in sri lanka convert idle land for productive and profitable use with c03 Fodder grass cultivation

    Wishing to continue his contribution to society, veteran Mr. N. W. Witharana had dreams of setting up a mixed livestock and crop farm in his retirement. His son, Mr. Madhubashana had successfully completed his Advanced Level studies (equivalent to high school in the US) and dreamed of owning his own business. The father and son duo decided to combine efforts and leased five acres of idle land from a neighbor with the goal to set up a mixed livestock and crop farm in Kurunegala, their hometown.

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    The 'King of Napiers' increased nutrition intake of dairy cows

    Mr. Ranjith is a goat farmer in Jaffna, a district located in the northern region of Sri Lanka. He wished to access a better-quality grass to feed his animals. The Provincial Director of the Department of Animal Health and Production, Dr. Kajaranjan, introduced Mr. Ranjith to the United States Department of Agriculture funded Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD) project’s technical team in the region, who are involved in capacity building of dairy entrepreneurs. Dr. Akilan Thuraisingam, MOD’s Regional Technical Specialist, was in the process of facilitating the distribution of 43,000 Super Napier cuttings to 22 MOD trained dairy farmers in the North from a MOD trained cultivator in another district and proposed this new and improved hybrid variety to Mr. Ranjith.

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    Dairy farmer from Sri Lanka says cow comfort pays off

    Mr. W. S. N. K. Mendis is a dairy farmer living in a village named Konwewa located in Kurunegala, one of Sri Lanka’s main milk producing districts. He raised his animals the traditional way by allowing them to roam free and graze on neighboring land. He would leave buckets of water outside for the animals to drink. At night, he would shelter about 15 adult animals under a small shed, measuring 40 feet long and 12 feet wide. At the best of times, his herd was able to produce about 35 liters of milk per day.

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    Reaching over 12,000 dairy farmers to date, this unique mobile-based advisory service enhances dairy extension in Sri Lanka

    The SAVIYA mobile extension service was conceived and launched before the world had any inkling of a global pandemic. SAVIYA was developed as a way for dairy farmers to have easy access to information specific to their herd by offering step-by-step technical guidance via a mobile phone. During COVID-19, it has also unexpectedly served as a critical advisory tool.

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    USDA funded market-oriented dairy project in Sri Lanka creates impact through transformative capacity building

    “We are fed up with trainings. Most are useless and have made no difference in our dairy business. I do not want to waste my valuable time. Please do not invite me for any trainings, Sir,” are the words uttered by Ms. Ranmenike, from Telulla in the Uva province of Sri Lanka, when the field staff from the Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD) Project met her for the first time. Outspoken and not shy about expressing her strong opinions, Ms. Ranmenike values her time above all else. Understanding that this is just the type of dairy farmer that would benefit from MOD’s Dairy Entrepreneur Development Program, Mr. Dhanushka Jeewantha, MOD’s Regional Field Officer, and the Extension Officer of the partner dairy processing company convinced her to attend the MOD training and she agreed under the terms that she would leave by 12:30 pm at the latest.

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    Young dairy entrepreneur in the central hills of Sri Lanka finds value in silage

    Mr. Richard Kingsley from Lindula in the central hills of Sri Lanka purchased ten imported cows and started a dairy business in 2016. Without a satisfying return from dairying, he sold a few of his animals, found a caretaker for the remaining animals, and started driving a cab to earn a living. When Sri Lanka was hit with the first wave of COVID-19, he decided to return to dairying to fulfill his ambition to be self-employed and an entrepreneur once again. Continuing his earlier practices, he assumed that feeding roadside grass to his animals was enough and was puzzled when he was not getting the milk yield he was expecting. This time around, to his luck, he was invited to attend the Dairy Entrepreneur Development Program offered by the Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD) Project, a program funded by the ‘Food for Progress’ initiative of the United States Department of Agriculture. There he learned the true value of animal nutrition in increasing milk production and that a consistent, year-round feed supply is an absolute necessity to sustain a lengthy milking period.            

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    In search of an extra income, two young men find there is wealth in the ‘weeds’

    The two friends, Mr. Ravindra Jayathilake and Mr. Ruwan Ambanwala, are typical young men, hardworking yet finding it difficult to make ends meet. Entrepreneurial by nature, they were in search of ways to make additional income when they heard that a large dairy farm in the area was short of green fodder to feed their animals. Although they had no knowledge of fodder cultivation but had what appeared to be a guaranteed market, they decided to grow CO3, a hybrid variety of Napier grass, in a half-acre plot on a trial basis. After about three harvests, they realized they were not making any money and their lack of knowledge on fodder cultivation was hindering their progress. Their fellow villagers would often pass by and make fun of them for trying to grow ‘weeds’ to make money. The common perception in the area is that any fodder grown to feed cattle are ‘weeds’ and thus a waste of time and not a worthy endeavor.

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    Sri Lankan entrepreneur seizes market opportunity to supply fodder in response to the nation’s emerging silage Industry

    Mr. Arasan Vajitharan from Nedunkeny, in the northern region of Sri Lanka, first heard of the opportunity to expand his income through the Commercial Fodder Cultivation training offered through the Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD) Project in Sri Lanka. The MOD Project’s primary focus is to develop ‘dairy as a business’ and to enhance the capacities of the country’s dairy sector. The project is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture ‘Food for Progress’ program.

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    Sharing experiences and knowledge, youth farmers show that adopting best practices is the key to doubling milk production

    Mr. Mahesh Adhikari is a young dairy farmer from Kurunegala, one of the major dairy-producing regions of Sri Lanka. Mr. Adhikari was producing about 25 to 30 liters of milk per day with his herd of 10 dairy cows. The average Sri Lankan dairy farmer would consider this level of production more than satisfactory and would be quite content to maintain this status quo.

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    With expertise and passion, dairy farmer from Wisconsin improves dairying in the South Asian island nation of Sri Lanka

    Gary Ruegsegger has dairy in his blood. Born into a dairy farming family in Wisconsin, he was expected to take over the management of the farm someday. Towards this objective, Gary obtained a bachelor’s degree in Animal Sciences, a master’s degree in Business Management, and a master’s and a doctoral degree in Dairy Cattle Nutrition. But when Gary participated in the Peace Corps volunteer program, his plans were almost derailed.

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    Youth farmer uses facts and knowledge to overcome myths and superstition to succeed in dairy farming

    Mr. Ramu Dhivakaran is a young farmer raising dairy cows in Hatton, located in the central hills of Sri Lanka. At 4,170 feet above sea level, Hatton is famous for growing the world-renowned Ceylon tea. The cooler climate at this elevation is also ideal for dairy cows and is considered the best weather for animal comfort, contributing to the highest milk yields per cow in Sri Lanka. However, the hilly terrain is not conducive for dairy farming in general as there is limited flat land that has sufficient space for proper cattle sheds and fodder cultivation.

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    Dairy farmer in Sri Lanka acquires the tools needed to progress from subsistence farming to managing his dairy farm as a business

    Mr. Mahinda Piyatissa, a dairy farmer from Medirigiriya, was struggling to manage his dairy farm and was on the verge of giving up. Since 2000, he had attended many trainings, but the differing practices shared during those trainings often left him more confused. When he was invited for yet another training, he was reluctant to attend, assuming it would be a waste of his time and the additional options would confuse him further. However, Mr. Piyatissa’s wife encouraged him to attend the program and then to select and adopt the best approach.

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    A Women dairy entrepreneur group in Sri Lanka proves that the secret to women’s empowerment is women working together

    When women thrive, communities thrive. A group of women dairy farmers in Muttiyankattu, in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, is doing just that – creating a culture of women supporting women and using their combined voice to enhance their lives and uplift their community. These women were resettled in Muttiyankattu in 2011 following the end of the country’s three-decade long conflict. The Sri Lankan government provided them with land and access to water from a nearby tank for paddy and groundnut cultivation. The Government also supplied them each with a milking cow to provide an additional source of income.

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    Market research plays critical role as first time entrepreneur avoids putting the cart before the horse

    A trained engineer by profession, Mr. Nalaka Bandara wanted to set up a dairy farm, but knew he did not have the industry background he needed to do so. He began his efforts to increase his dairy knowledge by connecting with the Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD) Project team, a USDA-funded project focusing on building the capacity of the dairy value chain in Sri Lanka. During their discussions with Mr. Bandara, the MOD team highlighted a fundamental mistake that local dairy farmers often make: failing to understand the need for availability of high-quality fodder throughout the year. MOD’s Business and Value Chain Director, Mr. Asoka Kuruppu, also highlighted the economic opportunities that exist in the dairy sector for the commercial sale of fodder and silage, inputs that are needed to meet the feed requirements of Sri Lanka’s dairy farmers.

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    Ridiculed by neighbors for laboriously watering his CO3 samplings using a clay pot from a nearly dried up water source on his property, Mr. Sunil Karunatilake is now laughing all the way to the bank

    When Mr. Sunil Karunatilake from Ambagaswewa, Sri Lanka learned of the importance of nutrition to improve milk yield, he decided to convert one acre of his land into fodder cultivation. Unfortunately, the country soon faced near drought conditions and the small water stream on his property was reduced to a trickle. Determined to save his crop, he used a small clay pot to carry meagre amounts of water from the stream to water his fodder fields section by section. His efforts paid off and he saved his fodder crop.

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    Sri Lanka's Dairy Industry highlights achievements at its inaugural Annual General Meeting

    Two and half years ago, when the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-funded Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD) Project carried out a needs assessment study of the dairy sector in Sri Lanka, the sector did not have an organized representative body. A year later, a group of leading industrialists came together to form the All Island Dairy Association (AIDA) under the aegis of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. AIDA was formed to function as a united industry body capable of tackling the industry’s most challenging problems and to work with dairy industry stakeholders to drive positive change in the industry and to deliver meaningful outcomes for the nation.

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    Technology upgrade helps small-scale commercial fodder cultivator supply large-scale dairy farm

    Mr. Shanmugavel Kajan is a man on a mission. He restarted his business of fodder cultivation and making and selling good quality silage to dairy farmers with the technical assistance of the USDA-funded Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD) Project in Sri Lanka. Within months of receiving MOD technical assistance and encouraged by the market response to his product, he was on the lookout for mechanizing his silage production process where possible to save time and money. During his search for the right technology upgrade, MOD Directors Dr. Sivayoganathan and Mr. Asoka Kuruppu introduced him to an inventor who had developed a unique silage packing machine at the MOD Enterprise Day held in July 2019.

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    Identifying opportunities and sharing best practices expands business for dairy entrepreneur

    Mr. P. P. A. Shantha is a dairy farmer in Bakamuna in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. In his spare time, he earns additional income as a milk collector and transporter for one of Sri Lanka’s leading milk processors. During his milk collection route, Mr. Shantha helps the processing company distribute cattle feed to their farmers. When requested, he also supplies farmers with basic inputs such as mineral mixtures and worm treatment tablets for a small fee.

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    Market-Oriented Dairy Investment Fund is made possible through the funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 'Food for Progress' initiative

    This one-of-a-kind investment fund offering debt and equity lending for the dairy value chain in Sri Lanka has already garnered significant interest from the sector, receiving more than fifty applications with a number of applicants shortlisted for further review and assessment by SEAF, a global investment management group and a sub-partner on the Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD) Project.

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    Sri Lankan dairy farmer shares best practices with over 800 fellow farmers

    In 2018, Mr. Arunashantha was invited to attend the Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD) Dairy Entrepreneur Development Program. There he gained new knowledge such as Total Mixed Ration feeding, making silage using local materials such as road-side grass, and new feeding methods such as separation of concentrates from water.

     

    Due to their dedication and success in implementing the lessons learned through MOD’s training program, their farm was selected to host the MOD Dairy Enterprise Day so that these best practices and new techniques could be demonstrated to other farmers and industry stakeholders.

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    Progressive Sri Lankan dairy farmer provides critical services to the dairy community

    V. Sivanesan from Killinochchi, Sri Lanka started dairy farming ten years ago. Needing to earn an extra income to support his growing family, Sivanesan offered his services to the country’s largest dairy processor, MILCO, as a milk collector for his village and thus began his entrepreneurial journey. The regular interactions with other dairy farmers in the area exposed him to the gaps in the value chain. While he was growing his business by meeting the many demands of other dairy farmers, Sivanesan felt that his approach to managing the business may not be ideal. When MILCO representative invited him to attend the Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD) Project’s ‘Entrepreneurship Development for Dairy Input Retailers’ training program conducted by Sarvodaya, the country’s largest non-governmental development entity and partner to the MOD Project, he knew that this would help him organize his business better.

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    Better management and higher income means a balanced life for dairy farmer in sri lanka

    “For the first time in my life, I was able to host my family and relatives for a nice feast to celebrate ‘Avurudhu’” declared Kumuduni Dissanayake, a dairy farmer in Nikewaratiya, in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka following the country’s new year celebrations. Reaping the benefits of increased income through higher milk yields of her small dairy herd, she added “not only did I have the money to entertain them all but I had the whole day to prepare the food and spend quality time with them”. Earlier this year, Kumuduni participated in the Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD) project’s ‘Dairy Entrepreneur Development Program’ and learned of the critical role nutrition plays in increasing milk production. With the support of the MOD field team in the region, Kumuduni successfully converted 1.5 acres of land to grow fodder and is currently working with MOD’s regional Technical Specialist, Kapila Wickramasinghe, to develop her farm to serve as a model farm for mid-size farmers.

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    Dairy farmer turned commercial fodder cultivator increases income for himself and his buyers

    Shanmugavel Kajan, a 29-year old dairy farmer in Thirubaiaru, Killinochchi in the northern region of Sri Lanka, with the support and encouragement of the MOD field team, led by the Regional Coordinator for the project, Thiyagarajah Benziger, cultivated five acres of land with Sorghum. Sorghum has a high-feed-value, lower production cost, lower water requirement, and a high heat and drought tolerance. With a short growing season, multiple cuttings from a single plant is possible. Additionally, it can be used in dual cropping systems, allowing Kajan to grow banana trees alongside the Sorghum cultivation for added income. “MOD’s training is very hands-on and practical. I learned business planning, quality packing, paddocking so that I can cut the crop in a rotational basis. I also gained the confidence to invest in an irrigation system. Most importantly, I was connected to my customers at the training sessions where I can market my product”.

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    Successes gained through initial interventions motivate dairy farmer to model farm on MOD’s best practices

    Mrs. Jayasekera, the owner of a 29-animal dairy farm in Maaspotha, Kurunegala, welcomed the Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD) Project to hold its pilot training session at her farm. A gracious hostess who permitted her farm to be used as a demonstration unit to train fellow dairy farmers, Mrs. Jayasekera is also an attentive and keen learner. Along with the other dairy farmers, she participated in the entire session by taking notes, asking questions, and actively engaging in the practical exercises. Today, a month later, she reports that the milk yield from her 13 milking cows has increased by 25 liters per day in total (a gain of two liters per cow) and the solids-not-fat (SNF) count has increased from 8.2 to 9% and fat content from 4.3 to 4.9%.

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    Shedding dated practices and embracing the new helps sri lankan dairy farmer make rapid gains

    Thusinthra, a farmer from Vanivelankulam in the northern region of Sri Lanka, started dairy farming only two years ago when he purchased two cows with the financial support of a relative. Today he has nine cows in total with four milking cows yielding a total of 18-20 liters of milk per day. Having faced many difficulties in making a livelihood in the past, Thusinthra’s goal was to develop a model farm to generate a sustainable income for himself and provide employment opportunities for others. He also has a vision to increase milk production to 500 liters a day and establish a small milk processing operation to serve the local area. Intent on increasing the total milk yield to 100 liters per day by the end of the year, Thusinthra is applying the best practices in cow and calf management as taught by MOD. Thusinthra started seeing immediate improvements as a result of these changes with increases in milk volumes by 2–3 liters per cow. “I am thrilled with the kind of results I am getting in such a short time. After implementing what the MOD team has taught me, I get 9-10 more liters of milk a day”.

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    Market-oriented dairy (MOD) project creates a paradigm shift, teaching dairy farmers to unlearn and relearn

    Mr. Rohitha Edirisinghe, a dairy farmer from Naththandiya who supplies a chilling center in Kurunegala district, received his first cow as a gift from his mother-in-law eighteen years ago. When he was introduced to MOD’s Productivity Director Dr. Sivayoganathan and Regional Technical Specialist Mr. Kapila Wickramasinghe, he had a 50-animal herd with eight milking cows producing 65 to 70 liters of milk per day. Mr. Edirisinghe confessed that his strategy to increase milk production thus far has been to increase the size of the herd. During the first visit, Dr. Sivayoganathan advised on the key actions required to increase productivity by working towards an ideal herd composition and by providing adequate feed for the animals based on their body condition. A month later, Mr Edirisinghe reported that he now gets the same quantity of milk (65-70 liters) from only five milking cows, an improvement in milk yield by over five liters per cow, resulting in a 60 percent increase in productivity.

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    Market-oriented dairy project’s dairy farmers ‘learn, apply and grow’ by getting the basics right

    “Fix the basics!” is the Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD) team’s mantra to get more milk from less cows. With training and capacity building as a core intervention, the team’s dedication to treat every interaction with the farmers as a teaching opportunity yields significant results to the participating dairy farmers. During farmer training orientations, Dr. Jagath Kukule Kankanamge, MOD’s Milk Productivity Specialist, shared his knowledge on how to assess the herd according to the body condition and the importance of a balanced diet based on the lactation cycle of the individual cows. Within one week of following Dr Kankanamge's recommendations on feed rations, Mr Jayasuriya from Hanthane saw increases of 1.5 Liters per cow per day and Mr Weerakoon from Galaha saw over 2-3 Liter increase per cow per day.

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    Addressing a critical gap in the nutritional needs of dairy cows, MOD promotes commercial fodder cultivation to support dairy farmers

    A hungry cow is not a happy cow. Animal nutrition is key to increasing milk yield and a good quality fibrous diet is essential for optimum milk production. With the overall objective of doubling milk production of participating dairy farmers, the Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD) Project is working on multiple approaches to improve the year-round availability of grasses by developing commercial-level fodder cultivators and buyers. In MOD facilitated the first of such buyer-seller agreements between Lanka Forages Pvt Ltd (the buyer) and three fodder cultivators (the sellers) in the northern region of Sri Lanka, considered a first for the region. The main purpose of such linkages is to ensure year-around availability of good quality fodder and silage at a competitive price, which is essential for dairy farmers to maintain a healthy, high-yield dairy herd and year-round milk production.

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    60% increase in milk production by following simple instructions on nutrition and cow comfort

    Anura Weeresekera, MOD’s Regional Project Coordinator for the Central Region of Sri Lanka, first met dairy farmer Janaka Herath and his wife Padma while carrying out the Needs Assessment Survey of shortlisted farmers. During the initial interaction, Anura Weeresekera shared basic guidelines on improving milk production through better nutrition and the need to provide water throughout the day (24/7). Heeding this advice, the Heraths, improved the diet of the milking herd, kept the animals cool by bathing them more frequently and milked twice a day resulting in an increase by 10-12 liters per day, a 60% increase in milk production by adopting easy to implement best practices. They are presently getting an additional income of Rs 25,000 – 30,000 per month.

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    Intense 3-day sessions create a collaborative network of trainers from public and private sectors

    With over 5400 dairy farmers in Sri Lanka to be trained during the life time of the project, Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD) project conducted Training of Trainer (ToT) programs with Master Trainers from University of Florida (UF) empowering sixty local trainers with enhanced technical knowledge and practical application of new technologies.

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    Manure: from Waste to Value

    Customization of seeder allows farmers in Sri Lanka to sow Sorghum seeds easier and faster

    As a teenager, Mr. Angamuthu from Hatton, Sri Lanka moved to the capital city, Colombo, in search of work. As a wholesaler of eggs, he was able to earn and save enough money to realize a lifelong dream of establishing a medium-scale dairy farm in his hometown. In 2003, he started a farm in Hatton with 20 cows, and by 2009, after investing in modern facilities, he incorporated Rothes Dairy Farm. Today he has about 250 cows and heifers, but the expansion of his dairy farm has also put his business at risk.

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