Profile and Background
The Pan American milk congresses are the reference events to learn about the novelties and trends of the dairy sector, debate and plan its future. They are organized every two years by the Pan American Dairy Federation (FEPALE), in different countries of America. The Dominican Republic is one of the 20 member countries that are part of the Federation, represented by the National Milk Council, CONALECHE.
Dominican dairy farmers are being guided through the project Strengthening the value chain of Dominican livestock, ProGana; to an improvement in the quality, profitability, and marketing of its dairy production. ProGana, a livestock project funded by the Food for Progress Program (FFPr) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), works specifically in nine provinces; In this success story, the farmers of the northwest line were the beneficiaries.
In order to strengthen Dominican dairy farming, ProGana organized, and sent, a commission of Dominican livestock leaders to participate in the 16th edition of the Panamericano dela Leche Congress (FEPALE) in Quito, Ecuador. This commission was represented by institutions and leaders of the dairy sector of Santiago Rodríguez and Dajabón, including the Federation of Farmers of the Northwest, FEDEGANO, and the 44 organizations of producers and cooperatives that comprise it, headed by René Liz .
The association of Ganaderos El Pino, ASOGAPINO, participated through the representation of Eugenio Bueno, and Belkis Gutiérrez. COOPFEDEGANO, did it with Daniel Valerio; the Asociación de ganaderos del cajuil, through Stalyn Méndez from the General Directorate for Border Development; and ASOGABUENO represented by Rosanna Antonia Díaz Aquino.
On behalf of NCBA CLUSA and ProGana, the commission was led by specialists María Elena Gómez, Elaine Hernández and Nelson Almonte.
In a meeting made up of three days of numerous panels, and experiences in the field, the commission of Dominican farmers had to recognize weaknesses in their livestock practice, identify opportunities for improvement, and understand and be interested in new practices, trends and technologies to be applied on their return to the Dominican Republic.
For its part, the leadership of NCBA CLUSA and ProGana should maintain the motivation of the delegation to take advantage of each presentation, as well as facilitate the approach to speakers and specialists who could expand the knowledge exposed to the public, and identify its possible application to the Dominican reality.
Farmers on the northwest recognized that they had important challenges to overcome, such as:
- Technification of work to increase productivity.
- Reduction of production costs.
- Work on the continuous improvement of processes to obtain and maintain a better quality of milk.
The FEPALE congress was held at the Hilton Colón hotel in the city of Quito, from October 19 to 21, 2022. During these days, the Dominican ranchers were exposed to learning on various topics:
- The importance of the dairy industry in the food system and its health benefits.
- The implementation of the Voisin rotary grazing system as a way to reduce the negative impact of intensive production systems, and an alternative to reduce costs, improve animal welfare, achieve better levels of profitability, as well as an environmentally friendly practice.
- The importance of strategic partnerships between the public-private sectors.
- Practices and technologies that reduce production costs.
- The active and responsible participation of the dairy farmer in the care of the environment and natural resources.
- The technification of the farms with the implementation of mechanical milking and electric fences.
- The importance of cooperatives for livestock associations. The discussions emphasized the need for cooperatives to become efficient, and competitive, in order to achieve growth, and keep their members happy and loyal to their cooperative.
“The business is not to produce milk, it is to produce grass that we can sell as milk”(Carlos Batalla)
The FEPALE Dairy Congress was an opportunity for the Dominican delegation of farmers to learn new developments and unlearn outdated practices or concepts. Coexistence became a space to strengthen relationships and expand horizons for solidarity collaborations between them.
After finishing the event, the participants reflected on the importance of the dairy industry for the dynamism of the economy of any country, and especially for the area where they develop their livestock.
Also on the sustainability of dairy farming based on three fundamental pillars: the social, environmental and economic.
Most of the farmers agreed that when they returned they would take action, or take steps, in the following aspects:
- It will enable the members of their livestock associations on several of the topics discussed at the congress.
- Encourage young people in their area to join livestock farming and begin to look at it as an enterprise.
- Apply and learn more about systems such as silvopastoral alley forage resulting from the combination of shrub legumes and forest trees, distributed in rows within pastures.
- The use of anaerobic biodigesters to produce fertilizers, to improve pasture production, save on the purchase of fertilizers, and reduce the effects of livestock on the environment.
- Implement efficient agricultural cooperative systems, which allow them to take advantage of the benefits for their members, and avoiding that only the large dairy processors take advantage of it.
- Educate producers on the promotion of grass to replace the grain in the diet with improved or native grass of good quality.
In conclusion, this event was for us the producers of the northwest line, before and after.(Eugenio Bueno, representative ASOGAPINO)
The Safe Agriculture/Food Export (SAFE) Project, operating locally as Strengthening the Dominican Livestock Value Chain (ProGana); is a seven-year project funded by the Food for Progress Program (FFPr) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It is executed by the National Association of Cooperative Enterprises/League of Cooperatives International (NCBA CLUSA) and a consortium of six (6) local and international partners.
This project seeks to strengthen Dominican cattle and pig farming in the provinces of Dajabón, Greater Santo Domingo, El Seibo, Hato Mayor, La Altagracia, Monte Plata, Puerto Plata, San Juan de la Maguana, Santiago Rodríguez.
It employs training, financial services, and organizational strengthening to increase production, quality, enforcement of sanitary standards, and marketing of products from both industries.