Thanks to scientific and technological upgrading, the Chinese dairy industry has experienced rapid development in the past few years.
An ongoing national key dairy technology upgrading project has greatly improved cow breeding and feeding efficiency and upgraded the quality of dairy products, agriculture experts said.
The national key dairy technological upgrading and industrial production demonstration project has solved major obstacles to dairy industry development, such as a shortage of well-bred cows, low feeding efficiency, the poor quality of raw milk and a low technological level in dairy product processing, said Professor Zhang Yuan from the China Agricultural University.
Jointly launched by dozens of departments and institutes including the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Agriculture in 2002, the 405 million yuan (US$49 million) dairy project is one of the nation's key science and technology upgrading projects during the 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05).
The lack of well-bred cows has long been a problem for the development of China's dairy industry. In the past, the country depended on importing well-bred bulls to mate with local cows to produce the next generation well-bred cows, which has low efficiency, Zhang said.
"Thanks to the renovation project, breakthroughs in embryo planting and sex-control technology have been achieved and the embryos of well-bred cow can be mass produced," said Zhang, a leading scientist of the project.
Two cow embryo centers have been established and can produce more than 30,000 high quality well-bred cow embryos annually, meeting 70 percent of the total market demand in the country.
Modern feeding concepts, disease prevention methods and high quality feedstuffs such as clover have been introduced to improve milk production quantity and quality.
In the last three years, 16 dairy demonstration zones have been built, mostly in northern China such as in Heilongjiang, Jilin and Hebei provinces and the Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions, including more than 4 million well-bred cows.
After the technological upgrading, the average cow could produce 6,500 kilograms of milk in 2004, a 15 percent increase year-on-year.
The country's dairy production has been posting annual double-digit growth in recent years, said Wang Huaibao, vice-director of the China Association of Dairy Products Industry.
Statistics show that China produced 17.5 million tons of dairy products in 2003, up 34.3 percent from the previous year.
However, the country's per capita consumption of dairy products is only 13 kilograms a year, much lower than the average 300 kilograms reported in developed countries and the global average of 100 kilograms.
There is massive potential in the Chinese market, Wang said.
Experts have estimated that China's per capita annual consumption of dairy products will increase to 18 kilograms by 2015 and 40 kilograms by 2030.
(China Daily February 19, 2005)