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Reducing methane emissions in Sri Lankan dairy sector

The dairy industry produces 800 million tons of milk annually, twice the amount of fifty years ago, providing essential nutrients to millions worldwide. However, dairy is also a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, requiring farmers to adopt environmentally friendly practices.

The USDA Food for Progress funded Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD) Project in Sri Lanka, implemented by IESC, has collaborated with the Sri Lankan Department of Animal Production and Health (DAPH) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to develop a Climate-Smart Dairy Model to help small- and medium-scale dairy farmers in Sri Lanka mitigate climate impacts and adapt to changing climatic conditions. This model works at the farm level, helping individual dairy producers reduce emissions, and in turn benefit from lower production costs and increased productivity, improving the incomes of dairy farmers.

Sri Lankan dairy farmer with solar panels to power slurry pumpThe Climate-Smart Dairy Model aligns with global best practices, focusing at the individual farm level to improve natural resource use efficiency. The model considers several factors beyond productivity that influence a dairy farm’s emissions, such as enteric fermentation, pastureland management, fertilizer application, water conservation, and energy source utilization.

The Climate Smart Dairy scorecard, measuring thirty-two criteria, was initially piloted with data from twenty-seven dairy farmers receiving technical assistance from the MOD Project and its partners. It revealed these farmers successfully reduced emissions rates across several target criteria, and pinpointed other areas for improvement. The MOD Project and its partners at DAPH plan to roll out the tool across the dairy sector in Sri Lanka to evaluate individual farmers' progress and identify areas for investment by public and private sector stakeholders. The Climate-Smart Dairy Model could help achieve emissions reduction targets cited in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) while improving farmer incomes and realizing national nutrition and milk self-sufficiency objectives.