Kiwi Agri ex­per­tise un­earthing po­ten­tial in war-torn Sri Lanka

Waipa Post - - The Country -

Milk has many ben­e­fits, but Tear­fund CEO Ian McInnes will be speak­ing in Te Awa­mutu about how it’s fos­ter­ing peace be­tween eth­nic groups and lift­ing whole com­mu­ni­ties out of poverty in North­ern Sri Lanka.

In 2012, Tear­fund and the NZ Gov­ern­ment teamed up to set up the Wanni Dairy Re­gen­er­a­tion Project. Now al­most in its sixth year, this project has mo­bilised farm­ers into co­op­er­a­tives and re­built the cool chain in­fra­struc­ture to im­prove the qual­ity of milk. That, com­bined with a breed­ing pro­gramme, and other ser­vices has lifted farmer in­comes by around 600 per cent.

“The re­sults of the Wanni Dairy project have been just stun­ning,” says Ian.

“Some farm­ers are earn­ing around $300 per month; that’s com­pa­ra­ble to a mid-level gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial.”

It is also help­ing to heal the wounds of the war and bring rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and peace by en­cour­ag­ing Tamil and Sing­halese eth­nic groups—who were un­til ten years ago at war—to work to­gether. Along­side ev­ery dairy project is a chil­dren’s club to pro­tect and nur­ture vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren af­fected by war.

“In the be­gin­ning the chil­dren would paint about their ex­pe­ri­ences of the war, but through many coun­selling ses­sions, they have started paint­ing homes, streams and even the sun,” says Ian.

Due to the suc­cess of the project it has now ex­panded into a sec­ond stage, to reach a fur­ther 7000 farm­ers and in­clude farm train­ing for 10,000 youth in chil­dren’s clubs.

■ Ian will be speak­ing about the project at Te Awa­mutu Bi­ble Chapel, at 7pm tonight. It is a free event and all are wel­come to at­tend.


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