Milk provides relatively quick returns for small-scale livestock keepers. It is a balanced nutritious food and is a key element in household food security. Smallholders produce the vast majority of milk in developing countries where demand is expected to increase by 25% by 2025. Dairy imports to developing countries have increased in value by 43% between 1998 and 2001. Over 80% of milk consumed in developing countries, (200 billion litres annually), is handled by informal market traders, with inadequate regulation.
The AGS programme in milk and dairy products aims to assist the member countries in exploiting the opportunities for livestock development and poverty alleviation through the promotion of safe and efficient production, processing and marketing of livestock products.
The focus is on enhancing skills and capacity building in the smallholder sector through upgrading small-scale processing techniques and assisting with organising marketing through a combination of headquarters-based and field activities and collaboration with selected external institutions. The main emphasis is on adding value, improving safety and minimising waste and providing advice and assistance in the formation and management of groups for milk marketing.
The approach is to develop and disseminate manufacturing guidelines and practices for products, and strategies and information systems for producer organisations and co-operatives. Active collaboration with national and international institutions in conducting case studies, surveys and preparing reports and publications is a key feature to ensure local participation and ownership.