Special symposium: Improving Milk Production, Quality, and Safety in Developing Countries
As part of Feed the Future, the US government’s global food security and hunger initiative, the Livestock Systems Innovation Lab (LSIL) was established at the University of Florida with a $49 million grant from the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The vision of the LSIL is to sustainably intensify livestock production in its eight focal countries (Nepal, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, and Niger) in order to improve the nutrition, health incomes, and livelihoods of the poor. These countries were chosen because of their high rates of childhood undernutrition or stunting, which causes about 45% of child deaths globally. They were also chosen because they have substantial livestock resources that can help to reverse stunting and improve the growth, cognitive development, and lifetime productivity of the children. During initial multi-stakeholder consultations in each LSIL focal country, low production levels, adulteration, and poor quality and safety of milk were highlighted as major constraints to consumption of milk. Consequently, LSIL is funding research for development projects that are aimed at improving the level of production, quality, and safety of dairy products in these countries. The symposium will highlight the importance of milk for preventing stunting, which causes almost irreversible brain damage when it occurs in the first thousand days of a child’s life. It will also characterize the risk, health, and economic impacts of food-borne pathogens and aflatoxins in milk in developing countries. Finally, it will describe successful research-based interventions that have been used in LISL focal countries to improve milk production, reduce milk rejection, and increase milk consumption.