Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

OPENING ADDRESS

by

Hiroyuki Konuma 
Assistant Director-General and
FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

delivered at the

Dairy Asia: Towards Sustainability

Bangkok, Thailand
21 May 2014

 

Dr Tritsadee Chaosuancharoen, Director General, Department of Livestock Development, Royal Thai Government,
Mr T Nanda Kumar, Chairman, National Dairy Development Board, India,
Mr Jack Holden Fonterra Sustainability Manager, H
igh level representatives from member country governments,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to be here this morning and to have the opportunity to share with you some of my thoughts which I hope will be helpful in your deliberations in this meeting and beyond in your work and consultations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Together we face the challenge of feeding more people than at any point in history.

The world’s population is expected to rise from 7.2 billion in 2013 to 9.6 billion by 2050.

At present, the world produces sufficient food to meet the demand of everyone, and maintains adequate food stocks. Despite this, the world is home of 842 million undernourished people. 

Notwithstanding its rapid economic growth, the Asia-Pacific Region remains home of nearly two thirds of the world’s chronic hunger population. .

The benefit of economic growth has not been shared equally among populations in different economic groups. In many cases, it benefitted the rich who could invest further, while the poor who did not have either means or opportunities to invest were left behind. This resulted in widening of economic disparity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have gathered here to find ways of working together to make dairy development in the region more sustainable.  The demand for milk and milk products has continued to grow in the region. OECD-FAO outlook estimates that Asian milk demand will touch almost 320 million tonnes by 2020 and that means the region will need to increase milk availability by another 75 million tonnes by the end of this decade. This provides a perfect opportunity for public and private investment in milk production and processing while at the same time contributing to household level food security and nutrition.

But, as we think about these opportunities and plan future investments, we must consider the ongoing changes that will affect the production, marketing and consumption of dairy products. The technology and institutional choices we make would need to be conscious and cognizant of these changes.

First, we need to recognize that this growth in demand is happening at a time when concerns about resource scarcity, growing pressure on feed resources, climate change and the need for more equitable development are becoming more and more important. Farmers worldwide face the challenge of producing more food with less resource while also addressing climate change and impacts on ecosystems. Meeting future challenges requires: substantial investment in improved resource use efficiencies.

Second, considering that nearly 80 percent of the milk in the region is produced by smallholders, improving their organization to give them better bargaining power in the market place must remain a core element of our work in future. While we recognize that bulk of investment will come from the private sector, we should work towards creating synergies and guiding investment in a manner that it does not marginalize smallholder producers.

Third, we must work towards raising consumer awareness about nutritional virtues of milk and we must do so by bringing science based evidence about nutritional effects of milk and linking it with policy and regulation.

Fourth, as you are well aware, women have been and continue to be key actors in dairy sector, especially in poor agrarian societies. Dairying provides women with a regular daily income, vital to household food security and family well-being. Women are not only centrally involved in milk production, but also in collection, processing and marketing of dairy products, roles which were often overlooked by development programmes. As we devise new projects and programs, we must ensure that the participation of women in dairy sector is not diminished and this participation must be such that the women not only contribute their labour but also become an active participant in strategic decision making.

Thus, our agenda goes far beyond simply producing enough food to meet the growing demand. Our challenge is to build sustainable food systems and provide sustainable nourishment to people. For the dairy industry, this means providing consumers with the nutritious dairy products in a way that is economically viable, environmentally sound and socially responsible – now and for future generations 

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is not enough that we recognize and talk about these challenges. We need to take concrete action. These are complex challenges and cannot be addressed by individual players. We must work closely together in dealing these challenges—the governments, the industry, the farmer organizations, national and international organizations must come together to ensure economic, social and environmental sustainability of food systems. For this to happen we need a platform for coordination of self-determined collective action. A platform whose members would be committed to the ideals of collaboration and mutual assistance and I hope this meeting will mark the beginning of shaping such a platform.

FAO remains committed to working with all stakeholders and I hope together we can make visible contributions towards improving livelihoods and nutrition. Welcome once again and I wish everyone productive and exciting deliberations.

Thank you very much.