A unique dairy expert meeting organized by Agri-ProFocus’ members AERES group, Agriterra, FrieslandCampina, Heifer, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Van Hall Larenstein, SNV and Wageningen UR took place at Wageningen UR on Thursday 10 April. Over 140 representatives of the dairy chain, farmers and researchers discussed on the modern Dutch approach, based on a long-term successful dairy production. The meeting was facilitated by Simone van Vugt (Centre for Development Innovation, Wageningen UR).
While the demand for dairy products grows due to overall population growth and rising incomes, the economies of different countries are facing a problem of producing enough milk per person. How to increase the potential of the local farmers and facilitate their contribution to the economy of the developing countries is the main question of the experts. Every country needs its own approach, and its own adaptation of the models that were successfully applied in the Netherlands.
‘Size does matter’
Jan van der Lee (Centre for Development Innovation, Wageningen UR) showed an overview on how dairy chains are developing through the different levels of farming and markets and comes to a conclusion that this experience cannot be duplicated within a short time. He affirmed that facilitators who want to help the emerging markets in East Africa should take into account the socio-political and cultural context and adjust their offer to the opportunities in the informal dairy chain.
The engagement of Indonesian farmers into the Dairy Development Program promoted by Friesland Campina is one of the promising examples of this endeavour. Kees Wantenaar, chairman of Agri-ProFocus who recently visited Vietnam and Indonesia, shared this experience during his introduction. By improving the quality of milk and increasing the number of cows, the farmers wish to come to a better quality of life. Therefore “size does matter”, claimed Rian Fokker (Heifer) in her column about small-scale African farming.
‘We need feeders, no breeders’
“Enough technical research, tailor available knowledge and technology”, suggested Theun Vellinga (Wageningen UR, Livestock Research). His other statement “We need feeders, no breeders” attracted spontaneous ovations among the public. From his point of view, sustainable farming depends on the role of the private sector. The public will invest into farming only if the farmers create the added value.
‘Farming should be a choice, not a destiny’
In one of the four workshops, Nils den Besten, a dairy farmer and cooperative member of FrieslandCampina, described his success as a passion that comes from a personal decision. In African countries many people become farmers by destiny, when there is no other possibility to survive. He is sure that the Dutch sector is unique thanks to family farming combined with professional farming. His success is coming from the cooperative support and exchange of experience.
The other three workshops were facilitated by SNV & Heifer, Van Hall Larenstein & AERES Groep, and Wageningen UR Livestock Research.
The expert meeting finalized with a conclusion by Geert Westenbrink (Ministry of Economic Affairs) to broaden the network and share the outcomes. Hedwig Bruggeman (Agri-ProFocus) offered to facilitate follow-ups initiated by members. This could be for example setting up a community of practice to foster knowledge sharing. Geert Westenbrink stated that the Dutch approach for dairy development is a strong product, however, we are still fragmented and not one force. We should act from complementary strengths. The Dutch government wants to support the development of a joint focus and new pathways on capacity building, research and innovation. Major challenge will be how to support smallholders in setting up viable dairy farms and market oriented farmers’ cooperatives.
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For more information, please also visit: www.livestockinternational.nlPhotos: Agri-ProFocus