World Milk Day was celebrated in Hawassa city, the capital of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNPRS) in Ethiopia on 30 June 2014. Milk is an important part of a healthy balanced diet and World Milk Day is the perfect opportunity to spread word on the nutritional benefits of drinking milk. This was the first time the day was celebrated in Hawassa though in other parts of the world, the event has been observed for fourteen years.
This event was jointly organized by the Regional Bureau of Agriculture, USAID’s Agricultural Growth Program-Livestock Market Development (AGP-LMD) project, ILRI’s Livestock and Irrigation Value Chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) project and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation’s-EDGET project. The organizers’ aim was to:
- Increase awareness of the nutritional benefits of consuming milk and dairy products,
- Increase awareness of the need to boil/pasteurize milk,
- Inspire the government and dairy industry to organize similar events in the future in order to increase milk consumption.
Participants drawn from the Bureau of Agriculture, the Southern Agricultural Research Institute, Hawassa University, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), private dairy producers and processors, students and city residents, took park in the event.
In his keynote address, the deputy director of the Regional Livestock Development Agency highlighted the major reasons for the low milk consumption in the country and requested all governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to engaged in dairy development and service provisions to bring about changes in attitude, create demand for consumption of boiled and pasteurized milk, improve milk supply by improving dairy value chains, which contributes to the health, productivity of citizens. He further stressed that the region is committed to support initiatives and events such as the World Milk Day.
Traditional music, dancing, poetry readings, question/answer sessions and educative dialogues took place during the event to convey messages on the health benefits of drinking milk as well as the importance of boiling/pasteurizing dairy products. More than 3,000 brochures and flyers highlighting the objectives of World Milk Day, the importance of milk consumption, the nutritional value of milk and the need for boiling/pasteurizing raw milk were distributed to participants and Hawassa residents in the four areas where the event took place. Many participants also enjoyed refreshing pasteurized whole milk and yoghurt that was brought to the event by private producers and processors for promotional purposes.
Debub Television program of the Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency (ERTA) and FM 100.9 Radio broadcast the event live to the wider public.
World Milk Day was also celebrated in Tigray, Amhara and Oromia regions with the involvement of the respective LIVES staff in those areas.
Last year (2013), the World School Milk Day was celebrated for the first time at Nigist Fura Elementary and Secondary School in Hawassa on 25 November 2013. The event was jointly organized by the Agricultural Growth Program-Livestock Market Development (AGP-LMD) project of USAID and the LIVES project of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).
The World School Milk Day aims to promote the nutritional benefits of drinking milk, encourage young children to drink milk and urge families to provide their children with milk. About 2,335 people attended that event, of which about 65% (30% male and 35% female) were students, 2.57% (24 male and 36 female) were teachers and school administrators, 30% were parents of the students and 2.43% were public stakeholders. Milk producers and processors, distributors and other individuals also attended.
Contributed by Yoseph Mekasha and the SNNPRS LIVES team.