On the 8th, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (Minister Chung Hwang-keun, MAFRA) announced that it would send Korean heifer breeds (breeding bull, semen for artificial insemination) and 101 heifers to Nepal by a cargo flight departing on December 22, in collaboration with the International development agency Heifer Korea (President Lee Hye-won). This is the first time where Korean breeding bulls and live heifers are sent abroad.
In order to secure the competitiveness of the domestic dairy industry, MAFRA has made great efforts to enhance milk productivity to reach the global level by producing heifer breeds best fit for the Korean environment, continuously distributing them to dairy farms, and improving breeding management of dairy cattle through the dairy cattle examination project* (65% of the total dairy cattle breeds for milk production participated). As a result, Korea ranked 5th in the world in terms of milk production rate per dairy cattle** as of 2021.
*Dairy cattle examination project: the project evaluates genetic capabilities dairy cattle by analyzing their production and breeding capabilities including milk production and milk components and promotes improvement of dairy cattle
** (Annual) Milk production rate per dairy cattle: Israel 12,512 kg, US 11,119 kg, Canada 10,852 kg, Spain 10,786 kg, Korea 10,423 kg
This official development assistance (ODA) project is jointly supported by both public and private sector. Korea rebuilt its dairy industry, receiving dairy cattle from Heifer International and the international community after the Korean war. By gifting Korean dairy resources to Nepal which is in need of our assistance , it is confirmed that Korea transformed itself from an ODA recipient to a donor country.
* From 1952 to 1976 while the Korean war was at its peak, Heifer International provided Korea with 3,200 livestock including 897 dairy cattle, 58 bulls, goats, pigs, chickens, etc. and 1,500,000 honeybees to recover the ecosystem through 44 times of assistance.
Last year, Nepal's gross national income per capita recorded 1,223 dollars, while 80% of the total population are living in rural areas. Dairy farming accounts for 9% of Nepal's gross domestic product and is a very important industry. Nepal has around 7.5 million (estimate) dairy cattle nationwide (390,000 in Korea) but the productivity is very low. Annual milk production of an indigenous cattle species of Nepal is 880kg, while that of cross-bred improved variety (Holstein/Jersey) is 3,000 kg, which is only one third of that of Korean dairy cattle (9,000~10,000 kg).
This time, Korea will not just gift heifers to Nepal but will also help individual farms generate income based on various follow-up activities of ODA projects. First, the heifers will be distributed to smallholders in Sindhuli district (approximately 150 km southeast of the capital Kathmandu), a pilot dairy village which is promoted by the government of Nepal. Then, follow-up measures will be implemented including training programs for farms, breeding management using mobile applications after ID is designated for each cow, dispatch of Korean dairy experts, and establishment of biogas facilities. If Nepal wishes, Korea plans to provide Nepalese workers with the opportunity to learn breeding technologies in Korean dairy farms. Also, Korean dairy genetic resources (breeding bulls and semen) will enhance dairy productivity through genetic improvement promoted by the government of Nepal, which is expected to lay the foundation for the development of the dairy industry of Nepal.
For this project, MAFRA has had an export quarantine negotiation on the animal health requirements for live cattle and semen with the government of Nepal since June 2021. The negotiation was finally completed in November this year, laying the foundation for export quarantine and customs clearance in general between the two countries.
On December 22, 101 heifers will be sent to Nepal, thanks to the fund raised by the general public led by Heifer Korea (crowd funding), collaboration with Livestock Economy of Nonghyup Economic Holdings and Seoul Dairy Cooperative, and donation of cows by dairy farms in Korea. Also, the breeding materials including mineral, vitamin and feed and veterinary medicine that were donated will be sent to Nepal as well. Heifers to be sent are currently going through preparation for departure including basic check-up and vaccination at a quarantine establishment located in Hwaseong-si, Gyeonggi-do.
Minister Chung Hwang-keun of MAFRA said, "Korean dairy cattle has one of the highest milk productivity in the world despite its poor breeding environment compared to advanced dairy countries, thanks to government policies for improving dairy cattle and the tremendous efforts made by domestic dairy farms. This project holds great significance in that it demonstrates that Korea has transformed itself into a donor country. I wish Korea’s precious resources can serve as a foothold for rapid development of the dairy industry of Nepal and enhanced relationship between the two countries."