The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that animal milks are not recommended for infants under 12 months, according to the latest publication: Milk and Dairy Products in Human Nutrition.
NaijaAgroNet gathered this position from FAO Senior Nutrition Officer Ellen Muehlhoff, who co-edited the publication, noting though that milks are efficient vehicle for delivering vital nutrients and improving growth for young children, whose nutrition is critical in the first 1 000 days of life.
FAO also lamented on prohibitive prices of milks and dairy products saying these are still too expensive for the poorest families to buy.
Dairy consumption in developing countries, FAO disclosed to NaijaAgroNet is expected to increase by 25 per cent by 2025 as a result of population growth and rising incomes, but milk and dairy products will likely still be out of reach for the most vulnerable households.
Governments, therefore, FAO insists need to address the issue by making nutrition a specific objective in dairy sector development and by investing in programmes that help poor families keep small dairy livestock like goats at home, according to the publication.
Also speaking, FAO Livestock Industry Officer, and co-editor of the new publication, Anthony Bennett, said that small-scale dairy farming is especially beneficial to poor households as it provides food and nutrients but also a regular income.
“Whereas crop agriculture means getting paid once or maybe twice a year, dairy is produced and sold daily so smallholders have cash in hand for immediate family needs such as food, household goods, clothing and schooling – and that changes lives,” he said.
FAO says that currently about 150 million households made of some 750 million people are engaged in milk production around the world, the majority of whom are in developing countries.
“A major challenge is for governments to develop inclusive policies and encourage investment from the private sector that helps these small-scale farmers take advantage of the escalating demand for milk and dairy in developing countries to improve their livelihoods,” Bennett said.
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