21 million tons of milk or the equivalent of US$ 5 000 million representing almost 60 percent of the value of milk equivalent imports by developing countries. These are the quantities and the value of the milk, which is spoiled or under-, valued due to the lack of appropriate milk collection systems in developing countries according to the World Bank. For many years Ministries of Finance and Agriculture, milk collectors, milk processors, consumers were confronted with this problem: how can we drain all the milk produced in the country which will permit to have a regular outlet for the milk producers, to collect more milk for processing, to increase availability of fresh milk to the consumers and to reduce importation of powder milk for recombination.
In countries with an advanced dairy industry, the bacterial quality of the raw milk is safeguarded by cooling. Such a method is not always accessible in all milk production areas of developing countries due to the absence of electrical facilities or economical constraints.
After 15 years of field experiments in developed and developing countries by several institutes, guidelines for the use of an alternative milk preservation method, based on the activation of the natural enzymatic antibacterial complex on milk (the lactoperoxidase system), was proposed. In 1991, the Codex Alimentarius Commission adopted the use of this system as a final text with an emphasis that it should not be used as a substitute for refrigeration.
During the last five years (1992-1997) the Dairy Development Group of FAO and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences made several field trials in developed and developing countries and organised a number of workshops in order to set up the appropriate methodology to be used to guarantee the full benefit of this method for the small milk producers, the milk processors, as well as for the consumers.
A joint FAO/WHO/IDF programme of activities on the lactoperoxidase system (Global Lactoperoxidase Programme, GLP) was initiated in July 1998 for a period of three years with the support of the Swedish Government.
I am very pleased to introduce this first Newsletter, which will permit to inform regularly the experts committee and the Governments on the development of that programme.
The first activity of the preparatory phase of the Global Lactoperoxidase Programme (GLP), started with an International Workshop. It was organized jointly by FAO and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and took place in Uppsala, Sweden from 22 to 24 July 1998. 11 experts attended it from all over the world (see above photograph), who were already involved in this new possibility of milk collection.
One of the objectives of this workshop was to demonstrate the positive impacts of the method on small milk farmers (improvement of milk quality at farm level, income generation for women, new access to the market), in order to set up the next three-year programme for demonstration in 80 countries and institutions.
The meeting of experts confirmed that the widespread adoption of the low-cost safe system would mean increased income for poverty (stricken farmers who often rely on livestock for most of their income, but who have no way of selling their milk beyond the village). The members of the GLP also recommended a worldwide diffusion of the data on LPS and agreed to accelerate the preparation of the logistic aspects to be used for the next three-year demonstrations.
The chemicals (with labelling and packaging), manuals and posters, which are considered as the key elements of the preparation phase, should be available in sufficient quantity for field trials at the beginning of 1999 (most probably in January). Laboratory equipment, including spectrophotometers, will be provided at the last moment, just before the start of the demonstrations.
The human resource component (experts, national and regional focal points, institutions) will be organized at the beginning of the implementation phase.