Ms. Gunawathie Gamage, who is 55 years of age hails from Minikawela, in Pallegama, Deniyaya in the Matara District. She is married to S.W.A. Siripala and have been blessed with 6 children, by now all of them been over 18 years. Gunawathie happened to be an active member of the local NGO, Mugunamulla Jalavidulibala Samithiya. Educating the children was a big burden on the family budget. They had to depend on the meagre income derived from plucking tea leaves from lands under tea leased by them. In addition they used to have a small nursery of tea plants.
It is only when as a member of the local NGO Gunawathi was fortunate to be selected as a participant in the Heifer International funded dairy programme implemented in 2011, and was able to purchase a Friesian cross cow and her calf that she started her gradual but sure journey to prosperity.
Though the family had no previous experience in dairy farming the excellent training both theoretical and practical provided to Gunawathie acted as a splendid foundation for the dairying the family was engaged in. The location of their homestead, abutting the river Gin Ganga, not only provided ample supplies of water so essential for productive dairying but also was an excellent source of plentiful fodder. The homestead located on the main Deniyaya – Pallegama road enabled easy marketing of the milk produced. Some buyers would purchase their milk directly from the farm. The surplus cow dung could also be easily disposed of due to this ideal location.
Gunawathie was able to get around 10 litres of milk every day and with the passage of time she was fortunate to be selected as a supplier to two pre-schools run under the auspices of the Kotapola Divisional Secretariat. She earned Rs.100 daily from each litre of milk so supplied, thereby grossing around Rs.12,000 monthly from the sale of milk.
Using the cow dung now available in plenty productively the family was growing their own vegetables and fruits and saving around Rs.2000 from their monthly family budget. The surplus available after use they were able to sell such produce and earn another Rs.2000 every month.
By now Gunawathie owns a herd of four cows after passing the first born female calf to a trained pre-selected dairy farmer from the same village, as part of her obligation in the dairy programme.
Gunawathie says she is overjoyed at the immense improvement in their socio-economic status achieved so far. They are now confirmed dairy farmers and say that dairying brings large returns more than commensurate to the effort put in.