The global population is expected to grow from 7.4 billion people in 2015 to more than 9 billion people in 2050. At this point in time, the food industry is not capable of feeding all these mouths with high-quality, sustainable, and safe products. In light of the global challenges we are facing, FrieslandCampina is committed to actively participate in creating a future in which every person has access to the food they need for an active and healthy life. As such, the cooperative aims at not merely exporting Dutch dairy products, but also Dutch knowledge and expertise about dairy farming.
Dairy development is not something that happens overnight, you need to start small. But where to begin? The Netherlands is globally recognized for its high quality dairy products and ability to consistently produce large quantities at the same time. Needless to say, the Dutch know a thing or two about dairy farming, which has led to FrieslandCampina as one of the biggest dairy cooperatives in the world. Active in many markets with a wide range of products, it delivers raw dairy material and Dutch dairy products in over 100 countries.
In 2011, FrieslandCampina began to coordinate the Dairy Development Programme (DDP) activities, the aim of which is to develop a sustainable dairy farming sector in the countries where the company processes farm milk. Sybren Attema, regional manager at DDP, has been involved from the very beginning. “With the DDP, we help small-scale dairy farmers in Asia and Africa manage their farms as efficiently as possible, raise the quantity and quality of their dairy production, and improve the socio-economic position of these farmers and make rural communities more viable,” he explains. In practice, this means providing them with the right technology, training, and education about breeds and facilities, to make sure that quality is maintained throughout. “Present day, we have initiated the DDP in China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Nigeria, and plan on expanding into new countries in the near future.”
FrieslandCampina partnered up with Agriterra, a Dutch NGO that supports farmers’ organisations in developing countries in fighting poverty, and developed several programs and exchanges to bring about these changes.
Through Agripool, a two-week exchange program, Dutch agri-experts visit cooperatives in developing countries. Last year alone, thirteen employees of FrieslandCampina and two members of the Board of FrieslandCampina cooperative shared their expertise and advised dairy cooperatives in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Nepal and Indonesia on matters related to good governance, human resources, marketing, finance and dairy processing. In addition, through the Farmer2Farmer program, Dutch dairy farmers train and advise local dairy farmers in developing countries on subjects in the field of animal health, fertility, calf rearing, milk quality and hygiene, feed and water management, housing, data management, and milking techniques.
In return, participants of the DDP countries can join field trips to the Netherlands. The purpose of these visits is to share the story of the Dutch dairy sector and FrieslandCampina, and increase awareness about the cooperation and its products. Through a particular Farmer2Farmer competition mission, four farmers from Indonesia had won a study trip to The Netherlands, during which they stayed on farms of members of FrieslandCampina to learn more about dairy farming in The Netherlands.
“The biggest challenges for local farmers ahead, are skills and management expertise of local farmers, the availability of healthy soil and clean water, and access to finance,” Attema, a former dairy farmer himself, explains. Local DDP teams of FrieslandCampina in developing countries are in charge of the implementation of the DDP approach and continuously support local initiatives and entrepreneurship. After all, it is about providing the elements to nurture the business, not necessarily spoon feeding or handholding.
So when is the program successful? “Via the DDP we share knowledge and award progress, which results in these farmers earning more and delivering more milk of higher quality to FrieslandCampina’s local operating companies,” Attema states. “If we can ensure this win-win situation, and establish a great relationship with all our stakeholders on top of that, we consider our mission accomplished!”
With his background as dairy farmer, Sybren Attema now contributes with his work for FrieslandCampina to the development of local dairy farms and strengthening rural communities in Asia and Africa.