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  • Corporations suck the milk of the poor

    May 31, 2012
    by andrea maresi

    Milk delivery (Copyright Flickr)

    A new report by GRAIN documents the importance of milk to the livelihoods and health of the poor in many countries of the global South.

    Most dairy markets are supplied by small-scale vendors who collect milk from small farmers and pastoralists, known as “People’s milk”.

    But they are under threat from dairy corporations, like Nestlé, and other players, like PepsiCo and Cargill, that are trying to take over the dairy sectors in these countries, from the farms to the markets

    “People’s milk” involves hundreds of millions of people around the world, from small-scale farmers and pastoralists to local cheesemakers and fresh milk vendors. They supply safe, nutritious and affordable milk to hundreds of millions of poor families.

    80% of the dairy markets in developing countries are supplied by these “people’s milk” systems, often referred to as the “informal sector”.

    Small-scale dairy systems in the South create 200 rural jobs per million litres of milk/year compared to 5 rural jobs per million litres of milk/year in the industrial milk production systems of the North.

    In Pakistan, Kenya and Colombia, fresh people’s milk sells for half the price of packaged milk in the supermarket. Small-scale farmers, pastoralists and vendors are doing an amazing job of supplying the growing markets for dairy in the South.

    The problem is that corporate interests are after these same markets and they are using heavy tactics to steal them from the poor, while governments are lending a helping hand.

    Regulations and private standards are biased towards the corporate sector and shut people’s milk out of markets.

    But these are the kind of food systems the world needs to deal with poverty, hunger and climate change and we should all be supporting them.

    According to a recent CGIAR plan, environmental degradation, climate change and
    growing world population require farm and natural resources management
    and policies to play a more central role in shaping development and
    environmental agendas.

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