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Helping up-skill dairy farm managers in China

Demand for milk is on the increase in China. Since 2008, the Chinese government has been driving a move from household farming activities, involving just a handful of cows, to medium- or large-sized farms, which have more than 100 milk-producing cows. Their aim is to improve farming efficiency, increase product quality and enhance standards of animal welfare.

Professor Li Shengli, Professor of the China Agricultural University and Chief Scientist of Dairy Farming engaged by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture said, “China’s liquid milk consumption is still low, at less than 20 litres per capita. This is approximately half the average consumption in Asia, and one fifth the average in Europe. However, rising disposable income, combined with people’s desire to improve their quality of life, means the size and growth potential of the domestic market is huge; China must develop its own dairy farming industry”.

By 2020, the government hopes to raise the proportion of dairy cows reared on such farms to 60%, compared with 45% today. However, a shortage of qualified managers, capable of running operations of this scale, threatens to prevent them from achieving that ambition.

150 managers will be trained over 5 years

During the next five years, Tetra Pak and DeLaval, sister companies in the Tetra Laval Group, will be working with the Dairy Association of China to help provide 150 dairy farm managers with the necessary skills to run larger-scale dairy farms. The training programme covers many different areas of dairy farm management, including breeding, nutrition and disease prevention, and it will be delivered through lectures at the China Agricultural University, a two-month internship at a model farm in China, and culminate in the opportunity to visit and study at DeLaval’s Hamra farm and other dairy farms in Sweden.

Tetra Pak and DeLaval have been working hand-in-hand on dairy farming projects in China since 2003. Their first collaboration sought to upgrade farms that provided raw milk to China’s School Feeding Programme; by 2014, all 194 farms involved in the project had reached EU quality standards. The companies’ joint efforts also include developing virtual training to farmers through TV programmes and the free distribution of educational DVDs and booklets.