The initiative is part of plans by the government to raise the number of dairy cows reared on such farms from 45% to 60%, by 2020 to improve farming efficiency, increase product quality and enhance standards of animal welfare.
Breeding, nutrition, disease prevention
Angela Mou, vice president, communications, Tetra Pak Greater China Cluster, told DairyReporter, the training programme includes dairy farm management, breeding, nutrition and disease prevention.
It will be delivered through lectures at the University of Agriculture, (UAC), Beijing, a two-month internship at a model farm in China, and an opportunity to visit and study at De Laval’s Hamra farm and other dairy farms in Sweden.
“This training program is open to dairy farm managers and technicians from all over China, as long as they meet the selection criteria,” she said.
“UAC will select the 150 candidates using three criteria; trainees should be general managers or technical managers of dairy farms (with more than 300 milk cows). They should have more than three years of relevant working experience and they should have an educational background in animal husbandry or veterinary medicine.”
According to Mou, the dairy farming industry in China has traditionally been limited to household farms, with only one or two cows. As demand for liquid milk is now growing on a mass scale, the Chinese government has committed to making the dairy industry more productive by creating larger, more efficient farms.
“However, the pace of growth in medium to large size farms has exceeded the available number of appropriately skilled farmers. Therefore, investment in qualified talent is required,” she added.
“Liquid milk is not traditionally consumed in China and South East Asia, but is seen as a healthy addition to the local diet. However, rising incomes, population growth, urbanisation and changes in taste and diet are leading to increasing demand for liquid milk and milk products.”
China liquid milk consumption
Professor Li Shengli, professor, UAC and chief scientist of Dairy Farming 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,” he said.
“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.”
Tetra Pak initiated a training program with UAC in 2013, to train managers and technicians for modern farms. After a two year pilot, the training program proved effective and was recognized by the dairy industry as well as the government.
Tetra Pak and DeLaval’s first collaboration was 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.
“Chinese and Swedish Ministers signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2012 to strengthen bilateral agriculture co-operation, especially in the dairy sector. As part of the 2012 MoU, each year the two ministries send working groups to meet and discuss areas of co-operation,” added Mou.