Providing leadership to an expanding local dairy hub

Ms. A.P. Kusumawathie aged 57 years of Mulberrygama, Bedigama, Vitharandeniya of Hambantota District is a single parent with two children. The son of 25 years of age is married and works as a mason while the daughter aged 18 years works in a garment factory in Wadigala.

She has been an active member of the Ruhunu Gemi Kantha Sanvidanaya (RGKS) the local NGO since 1989 and in 2005 happened to be in the first group of partiicpants from the area in the Heifer International funded dairy development programme of SLCDF.

Kusumawathi benefited immensely from the training programmes associated with this project, and was well equipped to take on her role as a well-endowed dairy farmer. She has been able to develop dairying as her main livelihood while also providing leadership to her fellow dairy farmers through the Muditha Ruhunu Shakthi Prajamula Sanvidanaya, the local community based organization, associated with RGKS.

All farmers of her group have by now donated their first born female calf to a trained pre-selected participant from the community.

She acts as the link to the local Veterinary Surgeon of the region thereby strengthening the programme by way of technical inputs. Kusumawathi acts as the local agent for Milco, the State owned collector of liquid cow’s milk in her village.

Kusumawathi also acts as a micro entrepreneur in the village collecting buffalo milk from the village, 12-15 litres daily and producing around 20 pots of curd for sale locally. She pays around Rs.70 per litre for this milk and sells each pot at Rs.100, thereby earning a daily net profit of Rs.400 on the transaction.

Her cow originally given to her in 2006 under the project produced two male calves in succession and Kusumawathi was forced to sell them grossing Rs.50,000.

Kusumawathi has invested this money to purchase another cow which has by now been artificially inseminated and is awaiting the delivery of yet another calf in the near future.
She has been able to put up a small permanent house with pipe water and electricity as well for the family to shift from the wattle and daub hut she used to occupy previously with all the proceeds of her dairy related ventures. She has also been able to purchase another block of land with the proceeds from the sale of milk produced by her cow. The groundnut grown on this land provided her family with additional income.

Her years of experience in dairying has made her a “barefoot veterinarian” to her community, providing valuable and easily available advice on skills and knowledge so much required for a good dairy farmer.