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  • Vinod Ahuja
    Livestock Policy Officer
    FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
    (FAO RAP)
  • Thanawat Tiensin
    Regional Coordinator
    Smallholder Dairy Development Program (SDDP)
    FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
    (FAO RAP)
Thailand: workers milking cows. ©FAO/Vinod Ahuja


Asia Dairy Network - Asian Milk for Health and Prosperity


“Asia Dairy Network is an idea whose time has come” was the sentiment echoed by the participant of a dairy workshop held in Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2010. After nearly two years of that workshop, the network was formally launched  on November 29, 2012 at  a Dairy symposium organized by the Animal Production and Health Commission for Asia and the Pacific (APHCA) and FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (FAO RAP), in partnership with AusAID, Nestle and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Chiang Mai University. The symposium was held at a side event in the 15th AAAP Animal Sciences Congress held at Thammasat University in Bangkok.


Past few decades have seen rapid growth in production and consumption of dairy products in Asia and the Pacific region. Aggregate consumption gains in dairy products in Asia over the past decade have exceeded twice the annual global average and projections are that the strongest gains in dairy production and consumption over the coming decade will take place in Asia. To be sure, however, there is wide variety in production and consumption patterns within the region. While South Asia has a much longer tradition of milk production and dairying in South Asia has been and continues to be an important livelihood support activity, recent growth in milk production and consumption in East and South East Asia, led by private sector investment in processing and distribution, has significantly altered the dairy landscape of Asia.  


Over 80 percent of milk in Asia is produced by smallholders. There are also millions of mainly small-scale traders making a living from the dairy value chain.  FAO estimates that for every 100 litres of milk produced locally, up to five off-farm jobs are created in related industries like collecting, processing and distribution.  At the same time, two thirds of the world’s 800 million undernourished people live in the Asia-Pacific Region.  One daily glass of milk to the children in Asia can contribute tremendously to improving the nutritional levels in the region.


With increasing complexity of dairy production and distribution, constantly changing consumption demands, deepening regional and global integration, diverse expectations from the sector and growing public health and environmental concerns, the region faces many challenges in dairy development.  Some of these include

  • Improving productivity along the cow-to-consumer dairy food chain and at farm level
  • Enhancing returns from milk production by improving access to input services and enhancing raw milk quality. 
  • Improving the organisation of smallholder milk producers to improve their bargaining power and reduce risks
  • Encouraging private sector investment in dairying along the post-harvest value chain
  • Maximising smallholder earnings from dairying in a manner that minimizes harm to soil health and contribution to water and atmospheric pollution
  • Understanding, more closely, the contribution of Asian dairy animals in global greenhouse gas emissions and climate change and identification and implementation of incentive based mitigation measures
  • Engaging, strategically and pro-actively, with other global and regional dairy players and promoting interests of Asian dairy producers and consumers

At the same time, the region also has a rich diversity of experiences and models to address these challenges. The Asia Dairy Network hopes to capitalize on this knowledge in support of smallholder dairy development in Asia by accelerating information exchange, sharing of experiences, collaboration in technology application and development programs, capacity building, and monitoring and assessment of progress and impacts through regular meetings.

For further information, please visit www.dairyasia.org