The Vietnam Husbandry Association is urging the country's dairy industry to develop its cattle and use modern technologies so it could diversify and raise the quality of its products.

Nguyen Dang Vang, President of the Vietnam Husbandry Association, said the country was aiming to meet 60 percent of domestic demand for fresh milk for an anticipated population of about 113 million in 2045. To achieve this, the country must develop a herd capable of producing 5.65 million tonnes of milk per year.

The country's domestic fresh milk production in 2013 was 456,400 tonnes, equivalent to 5.1 litres per capita per year. This satisfied only 28 percent of the country's demand, with imported fresh milk satisfying the remaining 72 percent. Last year, the country's average annual per capita consumption of fresh milk was 18 litres.

From August 2007 to August 2008, Vietnam imported more than 5.7 billion USD worth of milk and dairy products, representing an annual increase of 14 percent. In 2013 alone, milk and dairy product imports were worth 1.089 billion USD.

By 2045, Vietnam will still have to import 2.25 million tonnes of milk worth 3.6 billion USD every year, to raise annual average per capita milk consumption to 50 litres, or just 60 percent of Japan's current consumption levels.

Vang said Vietnam should focus on developing large-scale dairy farms while using high-technology dairy farming techniques, and noted that small-scale dairy farms accounted for up to 66 percent of domestic production.

Figures from the Vietnam Dairy Association showed that as of April 1, the country had 200,400 cows, a 14-percent increase over that of last year and a 67-percent increase over that of 2010.

In recent years, several companies invested heavily in the development of dairy farms. The country currently has 15 farms with 1,000 to 5,700 cows, and five more are in the pipeline, altogether accounting for 30 percent of domestic fresh milk production.

However, Vietnam's dairy farming scale remains small. Figures from 14 provinces and four companies showed that in 2013, a farming household raised an average of 9.3 cows.

This is higher than that of Indonesia, with three cows per household, but is a far cry from that of Japan, with 72 cows per household; the United States, with 96 cows per household; and Taiwan, with 126 cows per household.

In addition, the productivity of the average cow in Vietnam remained low in comparison with that other countries and territories with the same dairy farming advantages. The husbandry association predicts that by 2045, Vietnam's cow productivity could reach that of Taiwan.

According to Nguyen QuocKhanh, Executive Director of Vinamilk, which holds 50 percent of Vietnam's milk market, dairy companies should provide farming households with training and support in modern techniques to ensure the development of dairy farming areas.

He said that investing in modern milk processing plants was also essential to ensure diversification and quality enhancement of products, as well as the upgrading of levels of competitiveness and capability to meet consumer demand.

Experts said the country also needed a national management system for dairy cattle and measures to protect domestic production, such as the application of import quotas.

Vu Ngoc Quynh, General Secretary of the Vietnam Dairy Association, said the dairy industry's development was in line with the Government plan to meet domestic demand while expanding in the world market.

Vietnam is one of a few countries in Asia that are earning from milk exports. In 2013, the country's export turnover for milk products reached 230 million USD, mostly from Vinamilk.-VNA