A DECLINE in the number of dairy farmers poses a challenge for the global dairy industry, and the situation in Thailand is no exception in this regard.
To manage this risk and build its business sustainability, FrieslandCampina (Thailand) – a leading producer and distributor of dairy products under the Foremost brand – is aiming to develop the quality of local farmers, as well as improve their standard of living with a view to attracting more young farmers.
“The dairy industry across European countries, where we come from, is also facing the same problem. Each year, the number of dairy farmers there is 10 per cent less than the year before. For Thailand, farmers cannot get high benefits from a hard-working job, so their kids are inclined to want to leave their farms,” said Marco Bertacca, managing director of FrieslandCampina, the world’s leading dairy production company, which is based in the Netherlands.
Determined to create sustainability in dairy production in response to growing demand, and to improve the quality of life of dairy farmers, FrieslandCampina (Thailand) is continuing to create a farmer network for the exchange of knowledge between experienced Dutch farmers and Thai farmers, in order to increase the quality of locally produced milk.
“This is one of our social contributions under our ‘Route 2020’ strategy to promote the sustainable growth of the company,” he said.
Under this strategy, FrieslandCampina (Thailand) is focusing on three key challenges: producing high-quality and nutritious milk; creating and developing a network of quality dairy farmers; and promoting positive actions toward environmental issues, in line with reducing waste in dairy production.
Not only does the company bring advanced technology from its parent company in the Netherlands to enhance the quality and provide nutritious milk for consumers, it is also trying to building a connection between Dutch and Thai dairy farmers in helping them to exchange their skills and knowledge, the managing director said.
Following this strategy, the company is continuing a “Dairy Development Programme (DDP)” to develop the quality of milk and increase the well-being and wages of Thai dairy farmers.
Bertacca added that under the DDP, his company had initiated “Farms to Farmers” activities since 2013 to create an exchange in knowledge between experience Dutch farmers and Thai farmers with a view to helping increase the quality of milk.
The main activities range from feeding, calf-rearing, milking and hoof-caring to housing and barn design and data collection at farms, to ensure the maximum quality of milk production.
More than 5,500 Thai farmers are already part of the DDP programme.
In addition, the company has built a Thai dairy-farming network, which brings together more than 4,000 farmers to participate in a special training programme.
Among the participating farms, more than 100 are being developed under the farm model and as learning centres for other farmers.
Through those efforts, FrieslandCampina (Thailand) targets buying up to 360 tonnes of raw milk per day from its member farmers this year, up from last year’s daily average of 340 tonnes.
This also means that Thai farmers are able to earn more income for their families, he stressed.
“Via this approach, we strongly believe that the young generation will realise the importance of being a dairy farmer, and that is can also offer them a better chance in life,” Bertacca said.
Importantly, for its part, the Thai company is also consistently emphasising investment of at least Bt1 billion each year to improve production capacity and efficiency, as well as enhance product quality to make sure that quality milk is available for growing demand in the market, he added.
To promote its social responsibility campaigns, the company encourages children to play basketball and drink milk for a balanced diet.It also wants to develop Thai communities through a “Milk Bank” project, by offering milk to students at Border Patrol Police schools in northeastern Thailand and through the World Vision foundation, the MD said.