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Global dairy industry holds the key to producing sustainable food

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NAIROBI, Kenya – Delegates attending the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi, heard how the global dairy industry holds the key to producing sustainable food. The discussion was part of a side event regarding “Sustainable Dairy Ecosystems” delivered during the assembly, which was organized by the International Dairy Federation in collaboration with key partners.

The theme of the event “Sustainable Dairy Ecosystems: Nutrition Security, Women’s Empowerment, Climate-Smart Agriculture, Action on Nature and Biodiversity Enhancement” guided discussions among expert panelists. They delved into the positive and negative impacts of ruminant production on various aspects of sustainability, with a specific focus on the environment.

The session was moderated by Shirley Tarawali, chair of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock and assistant director general of the International Livestock Research Institute based in Nairobi.

Speaker Krysta Harden, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, emphasized the role of dairy in fostering sustainable food systems

“Dairy is a part of and a solution for sustainable food systems,” she said.

She highlighted the U.S. dairy sector’s commitment to biodiversity and soil-health strategies.

“The U.S. dairy industry is actively engaged in research, monitoring and supporting farmers to enhance soil health,” she said.


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John Walker Recha, member of the FAO LEAP Technical Advisory Group on Ecosystem Services at the International Livestock Research Institute based in Nairobi, said, “(There’s an) overlooked potential of livestock-farming systems in providing diverse ecosystem services.” He called for a unified approach in mapping and assessing ecosystem services from livestock agroecosystems.

John R Tauzel, senior director at the Environmental Defense Fund headquartered in New York, said, “We need action now. We might not have all the answers but that should not stop us from improving.”

Lloyd Day, deputy director of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture based in Costa Rica, highlighted the importance of supporting agriculture for economic development, food security, and sustainable land management.”

James Rao, senior scientist and agricultural economist at the International Livestock Research Institute, discussed “the market opportunities for livestock products and their impact on enhancing ground cover, carbon sequestration and pest control.”

Meenesh Shah, chairman and managing director of the National Dairy Development Board of India, highlighted dairying as “an insurance for farmers and an instrument for rural prosperity, with a key focus on gender inclusion.”

The event successfully shed light on the various ecosystem services provided by dairy animals and discussed strategies for building truly sustainable dairy-production systems. The dairy sector, facing the challenge of nourishing a growing global population sustainably, remains at the forefront of fostering resilient food systems and aligning with global climate goals.

Along with the International Dairy Federation the other organizers were the International Livestock Research Institute, the U.S. Dairy Export Council, the National Dairy Development Board of India, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and the Environmental Defense Fund.

A joint statement from the organizers said, “Dairy animals are vital contributors to rural livelihoods and economies, playing a pivotal role in ensuring nutritional security. Ruminant dairy systems, often underestimated, can positively influence climate and environmental conditions, supporting biodiversity and contributing to human health.”

This is an original article written for Agri-View, a Lee Enterprises agricultural publication based in Madison, Wisconsin. Visit AgriView.com for more information.

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