Dr. Marcondes did his Ms. and PhD. at Federal University of Viçosa (UFV)-Brazil, with a training period of one year at Texas A&M University. As a professor and researcher at UFV for six years, he had advised several master’s and doctoral students whose research projects were focused on feed evaluation and in modeling nutrition for beef and dairy cattle, with highlight research in nutrient requirements. Dr. Marcondes also coordinates two extension projects in which he has direct contact with farmers of approximately 50 farms, promoting a great transfer of technology from University to producers.
Challenges of dairy farming in South America
Dairy farming has an important role in food supply, as it creates jobs and income for the South American population. Despite the low increase in gross domestic product (GDP), the dairy sector has shown a higher income in recent years. This has significantly contributed to reducing the economy recession, and has also produced millions of new jobs. In Brazil, 58% of milk production comes from family-owned farms, which contributes to social development and poverty reduction. The annual milk production of South America is approximately 69 million tons, which is almost 11% of the total milk produced worldwide. Brazil and Argentina account for more than 66% of South American milk production. However, due to the high importance of the dairy chain in South America, a number of issues need to be improved. Despite high overall milk production, the average volume of milk produced per cow remains low. Several new technologies are available for increasing milk production in South American countries, however, transferring these technologies from research centers to producers is challenging. Another important issue is the low milk consumption in South America. The World Health Organization recommends consumption of at least 220 L of milk per inhabitant per year, however, consumption in South America is approximately 160 L. In addition, the milk quality needs to be significantly improved, which opens new marketing opportunities. Also, payment quality policies are required to improve the production of high quality milk in South America. Furthermore, milk production is mainly based on grazing systems, which makes it more profitable and ecologically/environmentally friendly. Therefore, South American milk production should focus on strengthening strategies and research in order to improve milk production from grazing systems, thereby improving food safety and decreasing poverty.