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The Milking Cow Market System

Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu Districts, Northern Province
May, 2012

More than three decades of armed conflict between the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam led to a steady deterioration of the food security situation along with social and economic infrastructure in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu are two districts in the north that were severely affected in the final phase of the war, from January to May 2009. In mid-2009, resettlement programs began returning those displaced in the war to their home communities in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu. Returnees have had access to basic relief in terms of shelter material, food and water and sanitation facilities, in order to re-start their lives and livelihoods, though poverty levels in these areas remain high.

This market analysis seeks to understand how well the current masonry market is functioning relative to the demand for labor, and whether there are opportunities to promote job creation in the sector. The masonry labor market was selected based on its importance as one of the major income markets for the local community. The study adapted the standard EMMA approach to the post-war resettlement context of northern Sri Lanka and presented results and recommendations of a PCMMA of the targeted market. Nevertheless this assessment followed closely the EMMA 10-step process including a focus on key critical market systems and a combined gap, market, and response analysis. The analysis focuses on housing construction due to the relative ease of quantifying demand for housing led by government and aid agency programs.

This market analysis focuses on the availability and supply of cross-breed milking cows to meet the demand for farmers seeking to both replace their cattle lost during the end of the war and to expand livelihood options through milk production. The study adapted the standard EMMA approach to the post-war and resettlement context of northern Sri Lanka and closely followed EMMA's 10-step process, including a focus on key critical market systems and a combined gap, market, and response analysis. Comparison to a baseline market system was not used in this analysis. The target population for this analysis is war-affected and resettled population in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts. The milking cow market system was selected as one of the major supply markets for the local community.

The milking cow market system is characterized by a series of private and government-supported breeders working through livestock cooperatives, middlemen and aid agencies to deliver cows to dairy farmers. This movement of cows is supported by a number of credit providers and extension support services, as well as by laws and regulatory bodies that govern (in effect restrict) the transportation of milking cows between districts. This assessment shows that the supply of cross-breed cattle is very low throughout Sri Lanka and is not sufficient to help the total population restore their stocks in order to reach pre-war milk production levels. Government policies seeking milk self-sufficiency at the district level effectively limit the movement of cows across district boundaries, which significantly constrains the market system from meeting the high demand for crossbreed cows.

Based on the above findings, this report concludes that the milking cow system in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu is functioning, but at a very low capacity relative to the demand, with few prospects to increase capacity in the near-term without outside assistance. Thus, it recommends advocating for fewer restrictions on cattle transportation, as well as providing support mechanisms to dairy farmers such as cash grants, Dairy Village programs and improvement of breeding practices. Importing milking cows from India and Pakistan is also suggested to quickly address the needs of milk products in Sri Lanka.

Report authors: 
Gregory Matthews, Tharmaratnam Parthipan, Nadarasa Pusharaj, Nishanty Sivakumaran, Ajith Weerasinghe
Download Report (790.27 KB pdf)