By The Nation
The announcement was made during the opening session of the “Dairy Asia Regional Meeting” in Muak Lek district, Saraburi. The meeting was attended by a range of stakeholders including public officials, academia and the private sector from dairy-producing countries across the Asia-Pacific region.
By the end of 2015, the Asia-Pacific region as a whole had achieved the Millennium Development Goal to reduce hunger and under-nutrition by half. The increased production and consumption of dairy products in the region are widely viewed as having contributed to the overall success in improving nutrition.
School milk programmes linked to local smallholder dairy development, like those implemented in partnership with FAO and other organisations, have had considerable impact on improving nutrition and supporting rural livelihoods, the conference heard.
“I recently had a chance to visit Bangladesh and heard about the successful school milk pilot scheme implemented by FAO and how it made a difference in the overall well-being of the children, both in the classroom and at home, after receiving 200 millilitres of milk every day at school,” said Kundhavi Kadiresan, FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for Asia and the Pacific, during the opening day of the conference. “This shows the important role dairy has in supporting the overall health and well-being of children.”
Thailand has a long-running national school milk programme that was used as a model for the ones in Bangladesh and Myanmar. China, India, Japan and Vietnam also have experience with school milk programmes at various levels.
Between 1980 and 2012, milk production in the Asia-Pacific region grew at a rate of almost 4.5 per cent per annum against the global average of 1.5 per cent. By 2012, milk production in the region had reached 280 million tonnes – 37 per cent of global production – or more than a third of all milk produced in the world.
In recognition of the FAO’s support in promoting sustainable dairy development in Asia, the Dairy Farming Promotion Organisation of Thailand presented a plaque to Vinod Ahuja, FAO livestock policy officer, who has been leading the dairy programme of the FAO in the Asia-Pacific region. The award was presented by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn during the opening ceremony of the “National Dairy Festival of Thailand” and the launch of the Dairy Asia platform.