Sri Lanka’s leading agribusiness company Watawala Plantations PLC (WATA) has announced that SBI Ven Holdings (Pte) Ltd, the overseas private equity firm of Tokyo-based SBI Holdings Inc, has invested US$2 million in Watawala Dairy Farm through Watawala Dairy Ltd (WDL).

The investment will further propel WATA’s dairy operations in the country and contribute to the economy by committing to the Government’s effort to promote local milk production and towards the goal of achieving self-sufficiency in milk. Furthermore, Watawala Plantations plans to utilise the investment to expand the herd (to reach 1000 milking cows), further improve its infrastructure to function at optimal levels and to strengthen the upstream value chain, the company said in a media release.

The strategic venture offers SBI Ven Holdings an 11 per cent stake in Watawala Dairy Ltd. Watawala Plantations, in the meantime, will invest Rs. 296 million to settle inter-company debt and strengthen the balance sheet of WDL.

The state-of-the-art dairy farm by Watawala Dairy Ltd is a Board of Investment registered project situated in Watawala, Ginigathhena. The project commenced in March 2016 as a pilot project called ‘Lonach Farm’ with 120 cattle, three cow houses and a milking parlour. Today, the farm manages a herd of 1600 dairy cattle with 800 are milking cows. Using an ultramodern milking parlour system, the farm currently produces around 18,000 litres of fresh milk per day and 540,000 litres per month. Annually, the farm releases 6.5 million litres of milk to the local market, which is 3.5 per cent of the annual Sri Lankan milk production, it said.

Commenting on their latest association with Japan’s financial giant, Watawala Plantations CEO Binesh Pananwala said, “At a time where the investor confidence and sentiment have been greatly affected, SBI Ven Holdings’s investment in Watawala Dairy Ltd brings in vital foreign direct investments to Sri Lanka when it is much needed in the market and the economy.”

WDL aims to drive sustainable production of fresh milk in Sri Lanka. “The company is conscious that healthy husbandry covering sound animal health and welfare underpins high yields and quality of milk. The farm provides facilities to a healthy herd with feed supplements scientifically formulated by a global expert nutritionist with the construction of its feed mill to process the special cattle feed. Stringent hygiene farm management controls have been implemented within the farm, conforming to international standards, including adequate clean water, slurry, and effluent management systems,” the statement said.