Lasantha Wickramasinghe, the Executive Chairman of MILCO Pvt Ltd, commenced his career as a management trainee in Haycarb PLC, working his way as an executive officer in the planning of production and monitoring department a few years down the line. Whilst balancing his career, he continued to pursue a Master’s degree in manufacturing management, moving further he shifted his career path to an IT sector with hopes of a better paycheck thereby, completing his second Master’s degree in Information Technology. He mentions gaining tremendous strength and knowledge by captaining the cricket teams of the University of Colombo and the first eleven, U17 and U13 cricket teams of his alma mater, C. W. W. Kannangara M. M. V. – Matugama.
Having worked in the field of information technology for the last ten years before taking over the wheels of MILCO Pvt Ltd, Lasantha was by profession a Business Systems Analyst working for IFS engaging himself in designing ERP functionalities for several global companies giving him the insight on how particular business are handled. Affixed on utilising his skills for the betterment of Sri Lanka’s society, he stated he took the challenge of providing guidance to our country’s leading company in the dairy sector.
Speaking on how Sri Lanka’s dairy sector is positioned and what of can be done to improve productivity, Lasantha mentions of how the dairy sector in the country isn’t utilised of it’s potential just as the agricultural sector is. According to statistics, the Sri Lankan dairy sector caters to a whopping 40% of the country’s requirement. He stated “I would position the Sri Lankan dairy sector as an eloquent but poor child who has not had access to good education and healthy food. Providing that we set the background for this child, he can be an exemplary father in the future”
Discussing the matter of Sri Lanka regaining self-sufficiency in fresh milk production with near time, Lasantha believes there is potential and reaching that said potential is vitally dependant that the structure of the plan is implemented in a viscidness approach. Given that more than 90% of national production is carried out by small dairy farmers, the plans implemented over the last decade may not have been executed due to various reasons. He states the current institutional structure isn’t quite capable of fuelling the speed the industry requires to move up the ladder. Considering how too many institutions worked on their own mandates towards improving our country’s dairy sector, this ended in adequately lacking a cohesive approach given that the present institutional structure doesn’t support that.
In terms of packaging and hygiene, MILCO Pvt Ltd has been widely known for its exceptional quality practiced over the decades. Although there are areas that could be further improved, the chairman mentions investing a mighty amount in a project this year focused on digitalising the quantity and quality measures of milk provided by the dairy farmers, as an unchallenging method of analysing them using the adequate technology.
Speaking of the impact the Covid-19 global pandemic has had on various industries, however with regards to the dairy sector, Lasantha is greatly proud of his employees’ contribution during a strenuous period as such. All supplies were collected and paid for, with the intention of motivating the dairy farmers at a critical time. Although, it wasn’t an easy road to take given that Milk is a highly perishable product, his determination made it through the process.
When asked of his view on the dairy sector’s performance last year and its ability to meet local demand, Lasantha explains how local dairy products have been rapidly increasing in demand, even though the production or the number of farmers hasn’t expanded.
In conclusion, he mentions of the 400 million profit the company made in 2020 after making losses for three consecutive years, stating “The awakening of MILCO is a catalyst for the dairy sector.”
Together with other institutions, MILCO plans on implementing an approach towards the development of the dairy sector focusing on Feeding, Breeding, Networking and using best practices. Lasantha is currently planning in doubling the production of his dairy farmers uplifting the rural economy and for the betterment of Sri Lanka’s dairy sector.