Increasing milk production through effective knowledge transfer to dairy farmers

Dairy farmers with a cow

IESC creates sustainable pathways to empower dairy entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka

Located in the nation’s second largest milk producing region, the dairy producers in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka are central to the country’s efforts to increase milk production. The Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD) project, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture Food for Progress initiative and implemented by Improving Economies for Stronger Communities (IESC), has been enhancing the technical knowledge of dairy farmers through training and mentoring since 2018, resulting in an emergence of dairy entrepreneurship in the region.

Witnessing this change in dairy entrepreneurship, the Provincial Director of the Department of Animal Production and Health (DAPH), Dr. BCS Perera, and his team worked with IESC to co-develop the “Dairy Entrepreneur Empowerment through Technology Assistance” program. This program aims to provide more dairy farmers in the region with access to technical training and mentoring opportunities. To support these efforts, IESC implemented a training-of-trainers for 175 veterinary surgeons and livestock development instructors during the latter part of 2021. The training provided the participants with extensive knowledge on training delivery methodologies, theories of adult learning, trainer qualities, and persuasion skills. Within two years, these trainers had already trained 2,814 dairy farmers.

During a monitoring visit, a dairy farmer from the North Western province shares his experience of transitioning from extensive to intensive management and the benefits of calf separation.
Photo credit: DAPH-NWP Media

Through both direct training and training-of-trainer activities offered through DAPH and partner dairy processing firms, IESC has enabled the capacity building of 11,093 farmers. Enhancing the capacity of local institutions and dairy processing companies throughout Sri Lanka will empower these entities to continue offering improved extension services to dairy farmers beyond the life of the MOD project.

“This experience has been an eye-opener to us all. Now there is buy-in from my team that empowering farmers with knowledge and motivating them to apply the best management practices to increase milk production is possible without the promise of subsidized goods, the practice of the past. MOD’s results-based extension approach is a huge breakthrough.” -Dr. BCS Perera, Provincial Director, DAPH – North Western Province

A recently completed evaluation of 310 farms mentored by 12 of the IESC-trained livestock development trainers showed a 41 percent increase in milk production. In addition, sixty-one percent of the evaluated farmers had adopted a minimum of six dairy best practices, such as proper calf management, silage making, and feed requirements. Through the MOD project, IESC is continuing to support the livestock development instructors to fine-tune farm development plans and improve extension services and tools to increase best practice adoption rates and ultimately double the region’s milk production by April 2024.


The Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD) Project, based in Sri Lanka, is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food for Progress initiative and implemented by IESC. The project aims to double the milk production of participating dairy farmers and enable them to obtain a higher price premium for fresh milk through interventions primarily designed to enhance their technical knowledge and create an entrepreneurial, business-oriented mindset. The project also supports enterprises along the dairy value chain to meet the demands of the country’s dairy sector to catalyze sustainable growth. The University of Florida is a sub-partner for this project.

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