Thursday, October 14, 2010

Small-Scale Dairy Production Fights Hunger, New Report Shows

by Sami Grover, Carrboro, NC, USA

Studies may have shown that meat and dairy production create huge carbon emissions, and even Bill Clinton is going vegan these days. But dairy is not all bad news. In fact, a new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) claims that small-scale dairy production could play a significant role in fighting hunger.

The report, by the Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Initiative (PDF), aims to assess the current status, and the future potential, for smallholder milk production across the Globe. Looking at the writing about the prospects for small-scale dairy production over at the FAO blog, it seems the focus is as much on economic development and job creation as it is on the efficiency of dairy as a food production system.

With demand for milk increasing by 15 million tons a year, and with about 150 million small scale milk producing households currently producing, on average, about 11 liters of milk a day per household, small-scale dairy is an established, reliable and scalable method of local food production. The report's authors argue that it would take very little investment to help farmers make the most of their animals:

"Smallholders are generally very resource-efficient," said Joachim Otte, one of the co-editors of the report. "Access to credit, improved animal genetic resources and animal health services, together with supportive political measures enabling them to participate in changing markets, are crucial."

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