Vadodara: To meet its growing demand for milk, Asia needs to increase production to 320 million tonnes by 2021, according to sector experts.
Experts from UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) have called for increasing milk availability by 50 million tonnes (MT) by the end of this decade.
In a meeting at Anand, the milk capital of India, about 35 kms from here, yesterday, they discussed and vowed to adopt a strategic framework for sustainable dairy development in Asia.
"It would boost livelihoods of small-holders and lower levels of under-nutrition," according to an official statement.
Smallholder producers are essentially the ones with a few buffalo or cattle, in systems closely integrated into crop production through use of crop-residues such as rice straw.
The meeting was organised jointly by FAO, NDDB, Animal Production and Health Commission for Asia and the Pacific and Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock.
According to recent OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook, the demand for milk and its products in the region will reach almost 320 MT by 2021.
"The region will need to increase milk availability by another 50 MT within this decade," the experts observed.
"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," Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative said.
His speech was delivered by FAO Deputy Regional Representative Vili Fuavao during the meeting.
"Holding the meeting in Anand and in partnership with NDDB is most appropriate as it is the epicentre of smallholder dairy development," Fuavao said quoting the speech.
Nearly 80 per cent of milk in the Asia-Pacific region is produced by small-holders, so improving their abilities to organise and thus give them greater bargaining power in the market place must be the core element of our work, he said.
He also stressed on increased participation of women in dairy sector so that they become active participants in strategic decision-making.
It was also noted there is growing pressure 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.
"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," the release said.
The only acceptable level of hunger and malnutrition is zero," it said, referring to FAO's full support to the Zero Hunger Challenge.