Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

FAO to assist Thailand reduce dependence on milk imports

Thailand, 23 Jul 2002 -- Bangkok – Thailand, with Southeast Asia’s fastest growing demand for milk that is fed mainly by imports, today signed an agreement with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to improve production and marketing by small dairy farmers in the country.

Under a technical cooperation project (TCP/THA/2802) signed with the Government of Thailand on 23 July 2002, the world food and agriculture body will provide training and technology to enable small rural milk producers to process larger quantities into safe dairy products with longer shelf life. It will also develop a campaign to increase public awareness and confidence about the safety and high nutritional quality of locally produced and processed milk that will be more affordable compared to the imports.

The US$359 000 project, which runs till June 2004, will offer smallholder dairy farmers, skills and technologies to improve milk production, collection, processing and marketing. The training will be provided in short-term courses at the Chiang Mai Dairy Training Centre of the Department of Livestock Development (DLD) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

“The experience from the project will form the basis for a national dairy development action plan that will disseminate the technologies demonstrated for sustainable growth of a dynamic smallholder dairy sector in the country,” said Dong Qingsong, FAO Deputy Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific after signing the agreement with Rapeepong Vongdee, DLD Director General

This will also help reduce the dependence on imports, which currently meet some 70 percent of the demand for ready-to-drink milk and dairy products. Thailand imports milk, mostly in the form of powder, worth US$ 280 million every year. In addition, it will increase off-farm job opportunities in the country.

Over the past decade, there has been a nearly three-fold increase in the per capita consumption of whole milk in the country. Demand has generally grown marginally or declined elsewhere in the region. The annual per caput consumption of whole milk in Thailand grew from 4.3 kg in 1990 to 12.2 kg in 1999. The share of milk in the dietary protein intake from livestock products in the country grew from 2.2 to 4.2 percent over this period.

[…] Several parts of the country are highly suited for milk production by smallholder farmers, who mostly use crossbreeds, with an average of 18 animals per holding. The DLD, in collaboration with the Dairy Promotion Organization, is trying to increase milk production at farm level, set up a rural milk collection network and to process and distribute products such as pasteurised milk, long-life milk and drinking yoghurt in the cities. It is also working to upgrade the milk quality to comply with increasingly strict food safety standards laid down by the national Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

[…] Moreover, small-scale milk producers are unable to meet the strict FDA conditions. The FAO project will also help a women’s village cooperative in northern Thailand, which has been unable to obtain a license from FDA for its milk-processing unit to supply the school programme. The project will provide the women’s group with improved small-scale dairy processing equipment to replace their machinery, which does not comply with FDA standards.

RAP 02/28