Milk Quality Improvement in Thailand (LIQUID Program)

Dairy development extension services are an important instrument for innovation and improvement of the traditional practices of small dairy farmers in Thailand and other countries. How about the gender and opportunity for better dairy quality improvement in Thailand?

The "Making dairy development do better" project as part of the Global Challenges Food & Business funded LIQUID Program could say something.

Milk Quality Improvement in Thailand

GENDER IN DAIRY: Opportunities for better milk quality

“She is one of the most influential women in the dairy business in Thailand”, that is what Thai dairy experts seem to agree upon. Ms. Supaksiri Phokunakorn (Joom) is an inspiring example of the ways in which the explicit inclusion of female farmers in dairy training can make a significant difference in working on milk quality improvement. 

Training women

As a fellow founder and the executive director of the Zonta dairy village, she facilitates and trains mostly female dairy farmers. “We are real life, we are not a lab”, she says: “So we find out that, why our farmer’s milk quality is not good and the cows are not happy. So we are thinking: Sister, look at that. The one who is doing all the work is the one who is the woman. The one who is going to the training is the man and they never do it. So ok, we train our women. And then we thought, why don’t we train other women as well”. This evolved into a highly successful milk cooperative and training centre that teaches women Thai women as well as teams from neighbouring countries about dairy production and making added value dairy products.

Research program

The NWO-Wotro funded LIQUID research program (http://liquidprogram.net) is looking for business models just like Joom’s. In, among others, Thailand and Indonesia, they are part of a project aiming to contribute to the Food & Business Global Challenges Program funded by the Dutch government and implemented in multidisciplinary, multinational, business collaborations. In Thailand, the Embassy of The Netherlands Agricultural Counsellor has been a  valuable supporter of the Southeast Asian project under the LIQUID program that is conducted by Gea Wijers, PhD.

“There is a real opportunity here to make dairy development programs do better”, and this Southeast Asian branch of the LIQUID program is exploring and comparing the Thai and Indonesian institutional contexts to find ways to work on this. The motivation is found in the logics of training the individual who, in many cases, is actually doing the work in smallholder dairy farming: the female.

Finding gender-sensitive extension methods, looking at more inclusive business models and facilitating policy frameworks within the national contexts could help improve milk quality in these Southeast Asian nations as well as inspire the dairy practices in Kenya and Uganda, that are also part of the LIQUID project. “It’s not rocket science”, says Wijers: “Of course, there is an embedded cultural approach to gender in all countries, but this just makes more economic sense also.”

Milk Quality Improvement in Thailand at Zonta Dairy Village

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