Director-General  QU Dongyu

Partnering with the private sector to tap the potential of the dairy sector


24 September 2020, Rome - Worldwide milk production is expected to grow by 35 to 45 percent between 2012 and 2050, offering substantial opportunities not only for food security gains and improved human nutrition, but also “to provide employment to millions of rural women and youth,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu highlighted today in a keynote speech to the 14th meeting of the Global Dairy Platform (GDP).

Qu noted that to tap the potential of the dairy sector for economic growth and sustainable development, “the productivity and income of small-scale dairy producers needs to be improved. And we need to promote sustainable and resilient production, small scale processing and properly functioning food markets.”

The Director-General emphasized that these objectives can only be achieved through strong partnership with the private sector, which is a priority for FAO. “This is not a matter of asking the private sector to fund FAO,” he said. “We are eager to strengthen and deepen our engagement with the private sector, through mutually beneficial collaboration at country level to better support our Members in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Through a solid cooperation, Qu also highlighted that both FAO Members and the private sector can benefit. On the one hand, countries can count on the expertise, the technological know-how and the innovative approach of the private sector. On the other hand, the private sector can rely on FAO as a source of expertise in animal health and environmental policy issues as well as science-based evidence, along with the Organizations ability to convene a broad Membership.

Already FAOStat offers national, regional and global data tracking greenhouse gas emission intensities of milk production, and FAO recently joined with GDP to analyze trends in the sector since 2005.

The Director-General also informed the Global Dairy Platform that FAO is finalizing a new Private Sector Strategy that “will broaden engagement to a wider geographical and thematic range of private sector actors, with special emphasis on partnering for innovation and leveraging investments into developing countries.”

In this context, he noted that the Hand-in-Hand Initiative and its newly introduced geospatial data platform offer a new business model for partnerships, combined with up-to-date information that allows for a true leap in analysis and decision-making.

FAO and the dairy sector

FAO works on many fronts and through a multidisciplinary focus to achieve a sustainable agriculture development, including that of the dairy sector. This includes transboundary diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease, emerging infectious diseases such as COVID-19, adverse effects of climate change, variable farm gate prices, disrupted transport, cooling and processing, and antimicrobial resistance.

In his keynote speech, the first ever by a FAO Director-General to the GDP, Qu noted that as vice governor of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in China, he had overseen significant expansion of the local dairy sector and noted the importance both of natural-resource limitations and the opportunities for holistic strategies such as integrating dairy farm waste such as manure into organic inputs for vegetable farmers.

As ‘custodian’ UN agency for 21 SDG indicators and ‘contributing’ agency for five more, FAO works with the International Dairy Federation and the Global Dairy Platform to identify the SDGs and SDG indicators that the dairy sector will focus on and how the sector will monitor and report on progress.

The Global Dairy Platform has 90 members in 35 countries, many of which are farmer-based cooperatives. Its membership accounts for around 30 percent of global milk production and its board consists of nine chief executives of the world’s leading dairy companies. The GDP’s annual meeting, chaired by Executive Director Donald Moore, was held virtually this year.

The GDP is an active member of the private-sector cluster in the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock, the premier forum also supported by FAO for catalyzing multi-stakeholder actions to improve the livestock sector’s use of natural resources while ensuring its contribution to food security and livelihoods.

The GDP is highly focused on pathways to low-carbon dairy operations, which likely vary depending on regional contexts, and has launched pilot projects in Tanzania to improve nutrition and livelihoods of local farmers and processors. In conjunction with FAO and GASL, GDP has recently published research into Dairy Development’s Impact on Poverty Reduction, Dairy’s Impact on Reducing Global Hunger and Climate Change and the Global Dairy Cattle Sector.