Small farms, big impact: Selina Prem Kumar transforming Sri Lanka's Dairy farming industry

Small farms, big impact: Selina Prem Kumar transforming Sri Lanka's Dairy farming industry

Selena Prem Kumar, a resilient and determined native of war-torn Sri Lanka, who has embarked on a selfless mission to uplift smallholder dairy farmers in her country. 

Kumar's initiative, which started with just eight farmers, has grown to include over 4,500, thanks to support from New Zealand farmers, the Development Organisation the Tear Fund, and the New Zealand Government. 

She painted a vivid picture of rural Sri Lanka's struggles, especially the impact of the economic crisis on the rice farming industry. However, she told REX host Dom George that this crisis unexpectedly turned out to be a boom for the dairy farming sector. 

"The rural people have had many challenges over the last few years. We went through a brutal war for about 26-27 years and it ended in 2009... and right now we are going through an economic crisis," she said.

"So it's continuous challenges for the rural population... since the rice farming is not doing well, they have to fall back to the dairy farming."

Kumar's story is marked by her survival in a war zone and her subsequent journey to spearhead a farming revolution. She discussed how her initiative is not just about economic empowerment, but also about fostering hope and creating lasting change for these hardworking farmers. 

"Their dignity is restored and there are more options for children in education. 

"They don't have to drop out for seasonal labour and many children go back to school and they have an opportunity for extracurricular activities." 

She spoke about the transformative role of women in this initiative, with 49% of the farmers being women. 

"Women are very involved now. 

"They have come out of their shells and they are very much involved in Dairy (farming)."

Towards the end of the conversation, Kumar encouraged listeners to appreciate their lives and the power of collective action. 

"Do we appreciate what we have and what is the extra mile we are going to support another and to restore this smile in their faces and see the families happy? 

"We can do it. Together, we can do it," she affirmed.

With the goal of continuing to develop dairy farms all across Sri Lanka, Kumar's story is a beacon of hope and resilience in the face of adversity.

Listen to the full chat between Selina Prem Kumar and Dominic George above.

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