Course Details - Milking to Potential

Designing sustainable and profitable dairy systems

The large variety in agroecosystems, socio-economic factors, and policies makes it impossible to develop a single model for dairy development. Therefore it is essential to understand the opportunities for dairy sector development as well as the limiting factors that could harm sustainability and profitability in the long term. During this three weeks course we will analyse the dairy sector at different levels, from animal to farm and up to country level. We will look at the challenges and opportunities the sector faces in your own situation. Moving beyond the technical realm, you will learn how to involve multiple stakeholders for inclusion of social, environmental, economic and political aspects

A mix of lectures, group work and field trips

Would you like to better understand how to design dairy sector interventions, strategies or policies in your own context? The course will use a mix of lectures, discussions, group work and field trips to offer background, theoretical insights, as well as practical approaches for projects and programmes development. Lecturers from different disciplines will expose you to a broad range of domains, with examples referring to the global South as well as to the Dutch example. Visits to local farms and interaction with various dairy stakeholders will give you opportunities for developing new ideas that you can transfer to your own real case during the group work exercise. The participants will exchange their own experiences and learn mutually from working actively together in various study groups. The programme is flexible to suit participants’ needs and the issues they raise. This will include many opportunities to expand networks and access literature as well as to learn up-to-date pedagogical methods.

Dairy opportunities and trade-off issues

During this course we will explore the opportunities and trade-offs of issues like:

  • Investing in the formal or the informal dairy chain?
  • Focus on dairy imports or local milk production?
  • Work with smallholders or with larger farms?
  • Improving the local herd or importing grade cattle?
  • Building inclusive dairy chain to the benefit of young and female individuals?
  • Producing milk in a natural resource (water, land) scarce environment ?
  • Can the potential of camels, buffalos, goats and sheep be better exploited?
  • How to better acknowledge food and nutrition challenges in dairy strategy?
  • Adding value to the product: Liquid milk or processing? Niche products or conventional?
  • How to create responsible value chains when it comes to milk quality and safety?
  • How to better coordinate dairy stakeholders to co-create concerted dairy strategy?

Why doing a course on Dairy Development in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands is a leading dairy country where the dairy industry is a key economic sector that is investing heavily in sustainability, quality and innovation. In continuous evolution, new challenges urge the Dutch system to evolve. You will be surprised to discover that the variety of the Dutch dairy farms not only include high-tech high-input farms with annual production of over 10 thousand litres of milk per cow. Farms questioning this model can also be found giving a large emphasis on their social and environmental impacts while focusing on the national market. You will also have the chance to meet various stakeholders operating in the dairy sector (veterinarians, cooperatives, laboratories, researchers, supermarket, consumers...). Their ability to collaborate together with the farmers, being a key success factor of the Dutch dairy sector of today and tomorrow.

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