Over 80% of milk produced is traded in the informal market in East Africa and Syria. Small holder farmers and traders are the backbone of this essential supply chain which provides much needed milk and dairy products to growing regional towns and capital cities.
FAO is taking the lead in identifying and reducing post harvest losses of milk and dairy products - which are reported to reach up to 40% of production in the wet season.
Information on actual losses is largely unknown. Most losses are due to a combination of poor production/handling practices and lack of technical knowledge.
Losses are reported as highest in the informal dairy chain. Smallholder farmers therefore incur the highest losses.
In October 2003 FAO launched an Inter-regional project entitled "Milk and Dairy Products, Post Harvest Losses and Food Safety in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Near East".
Participating countries from the regions include Ethiopia, Kenya, Syria, Tanzania and Uganda. There is an increasing demand for milk and dairy products in the regions and consumer have the right to expect these products to be reasonably safe.