Low quality cows shipped from Australia:
Investors allege a cover-up


By Rathindra Kuruwita 

A team of auditors from Export Finance Australia has arrived in Sri Lanka to cover up the fact that inferior cows were sent here from Australia under an agreement with Wellard Rural Exports Pvt. Ltd., Australia, under the guise of providing high-yielding pregnant milch cows, investors who took part in a controversial project said yesterday.

 Amal Suriyage of the Lammermoor Estate in Maskeliya, who filed a complaint with the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating corruption in the current administration, said that the government had distributed 3,030 substandard imported Australian cows among 46 investors and dairy farmers. He told The Island that the Australian team had arrived here last Sunday.

 "They have selected 15 farms out of 67. They have cows imported from New Zealand as well. These cows are in much better health. But as we have been saying the problem is with cows imported from Australia."

 He said the Australian team had visited some farms and attempted to find fault with farming practices there.

Suriyage said that there was a move to shift the blame from Wellard and ministry officials to others.

 "We have shown at the PCoI that these cows were in bad shape when they landed here. We have also established that we tried our best to nurse them back to health. These people have paid another $ 11 million to import another 5000 cows and they are trying to find ways to justify it."

 Attempts to contact Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs, Livestock Development and Irrigation K.D.S.Ruwanchandra failed. The Secretary was on a field visit the whole day.

Project Director of the Ministry Sagarika Sumanasekara told The Island that the team of delegates from Australia had arrived in Sri Lanka to conduct an independent assessment at the farms that took in milch cows. 

She asserted that the team had been conducting an independent assessment in the farms as the first stage and the Ministry had provided all the contact details of the farmers

 In 2017, the Ministry of Rural Economic development started importing 20,000 cows from Wellard Rural Exports Pvt. Ltd., Australia. A number of dairy farmers have made startling revelations about the quality of the imported cows. 

Suriyage filed a complaint with the commission that government had distributed 3,030 substandard imported Australian cows among 46 investors and dairy farmers who were beneficiaries of a subsidised scheme to introduce high-yielding imported cows, in 2017. He said that the Ministry of Rural Economy had informed the investors that those pregnant cows would produce 20 litres of milk a day on average and had advised some of the investors, who were already raising cows to get rid of the local cows that they already had. The investors paid Rs. 200,000 per cow and the government contributed Rs. 265,000. But 50% of the cows had died, Suriyage said.

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