A glass of milk for every child – Asia
A glass of milk for every child – Asia’s dairy farmers aim to boost production, livelihoods and nutrition
23 March 2014, Anand, India – As demand for nutritious dairy products continues to grow across Asia and the Pacific, experts and policy-makers from dairy-producing countries in the region are meeting in Anand, the Milk Capital of India, to discuss and adopt a Strategic Framework for Sustainable Dairy Development in Asia that would boost livelihoods of smallholders and lower levels of undernutrition.
The meeting is co-organized by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the National Dairy Development Board of India, the Animal Production and Health Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock.
Asia has seen a remarkable growth in the production and consumption of milk and milk products over the past decades and has now overtaken Europe as the world’s largest milk producer.
“Although domestic dairy production has responded to this growing demand, it continues to fall short of its targets and most countries in Asia are confronted with increasing dairy import bills,” said Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative, in an opening speech delivered by Vili Fuavao, FAO Deputy Regional Representative.
“Holding this meeting in Anand, and in partnership with NDDB, is most appropriate as it is the epicenter of smallholder dairy development and we must ensure that in meeting the challenge of increasing supply of dairy products that smallholders benefit,” said Konuma. “Nearly 80 percent of the milk in the Asia-Pacific region is produced by smallholders so improving their abilities to organize and thus give them greater bargaining power in the market place must be a core element of our work.”
“We must also ensure the participation of women in the dairy sector is enhanced and this participation must be such that the women not only contribute their labour but also become an active participant in strategic decision making,” Konuma said.
Konuma noted there are growing pressures on farmers everywhere to produce more with less while also addressing impacts of climate change, strains on ecosystems and an ever increasing global population with an expanding appetite for dairy products.
According to recent OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook, demand for milk and milk products in the region will reach almost 320 million tonnes by the year 2021, which means the region will need to increase milk availability by another 50 million tonnes within this decade.
“While we must work together to meet increasing demand, we must remember that this region remains home to nearly two-thirds of the world’s undernourished,” said Konuma. “Therefore improving dairy production must be done in a way that helps the undernourished.”
“Given that milk is a good source of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals, a daily glass of milk for every Asian child could significantly boost their nutritional levels and help turn back the scourge of malnutrition and child stunting,” Konuma pointed out. “The only acceptable level of hunger and malnutrition is zero,” he added, in reference to FAO’s full support of the Zero Hunger Challenge.
The Dairy Asia meeting expects to endorse a Strategic Framework for Sustainable Dairy Development in Asia, an initiative encouraged at its regional gathering in Bangkok in 2014. It also aims to develop an action plan for implementation and foster collaboration among countries in the region as development of the dairy sector progresses.