Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Dairy can solve two Sustainable Development Goals: Poverty Reduction (SDG1) & Zero Hunger (SDG2)

This post is written by Ernesto Reyes, GDP Sector Lead for Dairy Development, Global Dairy Platform

In conjunction with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock (GASL), the International Farm Comparison Network (IFCN), and Global Dairy Platform (GDP) developed the first in a series of research papers on how dairy can help with socio-economic challenges articulated in the UN Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. The paper, “Dairy Development’s Impact on Poverty Reduction,” examines the important role dairy development plays in lifting rural families and communities out of poverty. The study provides quantitative evidence that dairy cow ownership or improvements in production can significantly contribute to SDG1 – No Poverty. Key findings include:

  • Dairy development makes a significant contribution to poverty reduction, both at the household and community level.
  • Dairy provides a major pathway out of poverty by making the necessities of life – food, water, shelter, and clothing – accessible and affordable.
  • Dairying contributes a regular source of income and puts farmers in a better position to feed their families, send their children to school, provide for their families’ health and invest in their future.
  • Worldwide, the dairy sector impacts 1 billion people and employs 240 million people.
  • Women empowered by dairy farming have increased income and influence over household expenditures, which boosts their social and economic capital.
  • Dairy cow ownership in developing countries improves nutrition outcomes.
  • The potential for expansion of dairy production in developing countries remains significant and dairy sector development could serve as a powerful tool for reducing poverty. 

Throughout 2019, GDP has again worked with FAO, GASL and IFCN to develop the second research paper in the series, “Dairy’s Impact on Reducing Global Hunger,” which demonstrates the role dairying plays in tackling SDG2 – Zero Hunger. The study has been completed and the report is currently undergoing final approvals by FAO’s Copyright Department and should be published soon. Highlights include:

  • A positive association was found between dairy consumption and child height gain and weight gain.
  • Milk consumption was consistently and mostly significantly higher in households owning cattle/goats than in the comparison group.
  • In rural and low-income settings, household milk production increases household milk consumption, and increased milk consumption results in improved child growth and reduced stunting.
  • Across all experimental and observational studies, a remarkable consistency was found on the positive association between dairy animal ownership, milk/dairy intake, and child growth, and the proportion of stunted children was lower in cow-owning households compared to non-cow households.

These two research papers provide clear evidence that dairy development is a useful instrument to achieve SDG2 – Zero Hunger, while simultaneously supporting SDG1 – No Poverty. For more information, please contact Ernesto Reyes, GDP Sector Lead for Dairy Development: Ernesto.Reyes@ifcndairy.org.

GDP is a not-for-profit industry association representing the global dairy sector. GDP’s membership includes more than 95 leading dairy cooperatives, companies, associations, scientific bodies and other partners that collaborate pre-competitively to lead and build evidence on dairy’s role in a sustainable diet. GDP members produce nearly 32 percent of the world’s milk, with operations in more than 150 countries.

Building on this evidence that dairy sector development results in significant positive impacts on poverty reduction and nutrition, we have paired this Global Dairy Platform post with a short video shared by our valued partner, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The video highlights how a partnership with private sector dairy processors, small-scale dairy producers, and the government can empower women, improve nutrition, and transform the livelihoods of dairying communities in Oyo and Kano states in Nigeria.