Mr Chalermporn Phirunsarn, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives;
Distinguished Guests from the government, other sister agencies and partners;
Members of the press;
Ladies and Gentlemen!
It is my privilege and pleasure to participate in this launch meeting of two regional projects--one on Smallholder Dairy Development and second on improving consumption and livelihoods through school milk programmes linked to smallholder dairy operations. Both projects span three countries in the Asia Pacific region—Thailand, Bangladesh and Myanmar and it is really very promising to see that, despite important commitments back home, the project partners from all three countries have accepted our invitation to join this meeting. I take this opportunity to thank the project partners from all three countries for their kind support and commitment.
As you know, the demand for milk and milk products in Asia has grown quite rapidly during the last few decades. In fact, if we look at the data over the last two decades, we find that Asian consumers have generated nearly half of the global dairy product demand. Production has grown too but not at the same rate as consumption, resulting in increased import dependency. The prognosis for further demand growth continues to be strong and that provides an attractive opportunity for developing Asian nations to further consolidate the gains in dairying by investing in measures to enhance productivity, quality and market access.
Another important feature is that over 80 percent of milk in Asia is produced by smallholders. This is good news since the poor generally tend to be much more important in smallholder dairy production than in crop production. Dairying is also more labor intensive than crop production and provides a remunerative outlet for family labour. Both those characteristics cause growth in smallholder dairy to have a more direct impact in poverty reduction than the same increase in crop production. 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.
FAO has been deeply aware of the potential of dairying in support of food and nutrition security, employment creation, and poverty reduction. Over the last few years FAO has partnered with CFC, APHCA (Animal Production and Health Commission for Asia and the Pacific) and national stakeholders in analyzing Asian dairy experience and distilling lessons in preparation of a comprehensive strategy for dairy development in Asia. The strategy document was prepared in 2008 and is available on FAO website. This was followed by more specific 10 year investment plan costed at $250 million. These two projects that we are launching today represent the first intervention under that strategy. Estimated total cost of these projects is 7.2 million dollars with Royal Thai Government providing in-kind support of 4 million dollars and CFC providing a cash grant of 2 million dollars. Other partners also bring significant in-kind and cash contributions. I take this opportunity to thank CFC, the Royal Thai Government, the Governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar and associated project partners for their generous support and demonstration of leadership in this process. I also hope these projects will serve as a catalyst in mobilizing more resources and partners in support of smallholder dairy development in the region.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me also, on this important occasion, reaffirm the commitment of FAO’s regional, sub-regional and national offices in the region in working with member country governments and development partners in dealing with the challenges and opportunities presented by rapid growth and associated structural changes in Asia’s livestock sector in general and dairy in particular.
I thank all of you for accepting our invitation and taking time to join us this afternoon in this important event.