Anand, 25 March 2015: Experts and policy-makers from Asia and the Pacific are meeting at Anand, the Milk Capital of India on 23-26, March 2015, to discuss and adopt a strategic framework for sustainable dairy development in Asia that would boost livelihoods of the smallholder dairy farmers. The regional meeting is co-organized by the National Dairy Development Board of India, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Animal Production and Health Commission for Asia and the Pacific (APHCA) & the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock.
More than 60 delegates representing a broad range of stakeholders including senior officials from governments, national and international development agencies, private sector agencies, civil society organizations, donors and development partners, and academic and research institutions from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam are participating.
While delivering the welcome address, Shri T Nanda Kumar, Chairman, NDDB said that Anand is known all over the world for the immensely successful experiment in sustainable dairy development through small and marginal farmers. The Dairy Board of India has completed 50 years of committed service and innovative support to small dairy farmers in India. NDDB believes that dairy development is not about the commodity called milk, but about the social and economic transformation of rural households in India.
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. Chairman NDDB feels that considering economic growth, change in dietary habits and urbanisation in the Asia the demand estimate could be re-visited. Shri Nanda Kumar said that improving small holder organisations’ capabilities to give them a better bargaining power in the market is extremely important. Making efforts to increase awareness about nutritional aspects of milk is also necessary. Last but not the least, the economic and social empowerment of women through dairying should be encouraged.
Shri Nanda Kumar endorsed the Chiang Mai Declaration, which identified strategic interventions under four mutually reinforcing pillars – (i) Pillar 1: Human resource development and knowledge management, (ii) Pillar 2: Improving the productivity and competitiveness of smallholder milk producers, (iii) Pillar 3: Strengthening the linkages between farmers and consumers to deliver a quality product at a fair price and, (iv) Pillar 4: Enhancing the enabling environment. He said that these hold good for almost all Asian countries. “We in India are willing to share both knowledge and experience in arriving at a ‘common but differentiated’ solution for countries in the Asian region”, he concluded.
Mr Vili Fuavao, FAO Deputy Regional Representative, Bangkok, Thailand said that 60% of the under nourished people are found in this region, and a decisive and collective action is needed to improve nutritional security of these sections of people by ensuring more equitable growth and development of smallholder dairying in Asia. Dairying provides food, family nutrition and incomes to women. Engagement of women needs to be viewed not merely as labour participation, but as a tool for economic empowerment.
Dr Suresh S. Honnappagol, Animal Husbandry Commissioner, Government of India observed that India has been experiencing one of the fastest growth in economic development wherein 73% of population are from young age groups. About 80% of milk production is contributed by the smallholder dairy producers with an average 4 litres of production per day, integrating use of crop residues for milk production and use them as coping mechanism against crop failures.
Mr Henning Steinfeld, Chief, Livestock Information and Policy Branch, FAO, Rome felt that large number of poor and poverty stricken population of the region could benefit from smallholder milk production. As policy, competition between food and feed needs to be reduced and growth of livestock in valuable ecosystem could be limited so that undesired competition between human being and animal is minimised.
Prof. Margaret Gill, Chair, Integrated Land Use, University of Aberdeen, Scotland and Chair, CGIAR Independent Science and Partnership Council spoke on opportunities and issues associated with the contribution of dairying to meeting the zero hunger challenge, with a particular focus on Asia. Prof Gill said that monitoring key changes and lateral thinking in all parts of the dairy industry could be key to success.
Earlier in his opening remarks, Dr Vinod Ahuja, Livestock Policy Officer, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand said that in 2003 under the initiative of FAO and NDDB, a programme called Pro- Poor Livestock Policy Initiative was initiated in India. Subsequently it covered South Asia Pro Poor Livestock Policy Programme. NDDB provided a strong foundation and financial support. He said, “In course of the experiences gained, the concept of Dairy Asia as an idea emerged and a regional meeting “Dairy Asia –Towards Sustainability’ was organised in Bangkok on 21-23 May 2014. A road map was prepared, consultations were made and the present meeting is convened to take the ideas into realities in tangible form”.
Following the Bangkok meeting, a framework paper was prepared outlining the elements of a strategic framework for sustainable dairy development in Asia. The experts discussed and endorsed the strategic framework paper and pledged to work together in pursuit of sustainable dairy development agenda.