June 1, 2011


Asia's milk production rises five-fold in three decades



Asia's milk production crossed the 250-million-tonne mark last year, indicating that the region's output increased five-fold over the last three decades, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.


It said that over the same period, annual per capita consumption of milk grew from 20kg to 70kg.


"Produced by hundreds of millions of farm households and backed by countless rural farmers' organisations and dairy cooperatives in over 25 countries, Asia's milk production increase is one of Asia's most celebrated success stories in development," said FAO's regional chief for Asia and Pacific, Hiroyuki Konuma.


In a statement issued to mark World Milk Day tomorrow, the FAO said that in the context of poverty and malnutrition in Asia, milk had a special role to play for its many nutritional advantages as well as providing income for millions of small-scale farmers.


It said the dairy sector sustained the income and employment of millions of farm families, provided milk for nutrition, and draught animal power and manure for agriculture.


In addition, current high prices for milk products have further induced renewed interest in dairy development in Asia, particularly in recognition of the nutritional importance of milk in rural communities, it said.


Nearly 80% of fresh milk produced in Asia is supplied by smallholders for which women farmers play a major role.


FAO said it had implemented hundreds of technical assistance projects for direct or indirect support to dairy development in Asia through several hundreds of millions of US-dollar funding from a wide range of development partners.


These included projects supporting the production of green fodder and animal feeds, animal health and production, animal breeding and artificial insemination, dairy processing and enterprise development, and pro-poor livestock policy and development, it added.


Vinod Ahuja, livestock policy officer based at the Bangkok FAO Regional Office, said the dairy industry in Asia was undergoing rapid changes catering to changing demands and a diverse range of dairy products.


The first World Milk Day was celebrated in June 2001.

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