Closing the productivity gap in developing countries

Farm management is the most important issue for improving productivity and sustainability on dairy farms in developing countries.

The potential to improve dairy farming in developing countries is enormous. The average yield of a cow in a developing country is between one and five litres a day compared to the world’s high performers producing 40 litres.

Many developing countries have the potential to double their figures with the right training and education. This would also lead to perhaps the most significant improvement we can make within sustainable dairy farming; improving the lifetime daily yield of the cow.

The Turkish example

Firouz Nourmahammadi is a senior project manager within dairy farm planning and design at DeLaval. He works in countries around the world helping farmers get the most from their farm. He has experienced countries like Turkey move from bucket milking in 2003 to robotic systems in 2016. ”When I started helping farms in Turkey, their average yield was three to four litres. The same farms are now yielding 40 litres per day from their cows,” he says.

Much of Nourmahammadi’s work is probono such as a recent trip earlier this year to Ethiopia where he taught professors and phD students various ways to improve the productivity of dairy herds in Ethiopia.

”There are smart people there running the farms and the climate is good in the high altitude areas but the farmers lack the knowledge required to improve hygiene standards and the management of their farm. We were able to educate the educators and we hope to see benefits in Ethiopia in the years ahead.

”Just improving farm management will help these farms a lot. To use the right feed in the proper way for example, is an issue where they don’t have enough experience and need help in this matter as well. These are all challenges that can be overcome. Ethiopia has the potential to follow the same path as Turkey.”

Head of Sustainability at DeLaval, Jan Agri agrees. ”If we could make every cow produce as much milk in her lifetime as her genetic capacity allows, then we are clearly making milk production more sustainable. It would mean a significantly more effective use of resources per kg of milk produced. Also the environmental footprint in the form of waste and emissions to air and water would be much reduced. Commercial farms in the developing countries have the potential to double their yield per cow if they use best practices and the best available technology.”

DeLaval is involved in several projects around the world educating farmers and educational institutions about the best available farming techniques.