Delegation of the European Union to Colombia

Improving the competitiveness of the Colombian dairy sector

25/10/2016 - 00:00
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The Programme supports the Government of Colombia in strengthening productivity and competitiveness of the dairy sector in order to contribute to the eradication of poverty, promotion of sustainable and inclusive growth and the consolidation and improvement of democratic governance and economic life.

Improving the competitiveness of the Colombian dairy sector

“We are very happy with the program. We have learned to improve our pastures with tropical grasses, including fodder trees, contributing to recover nutrients and water. Animals are better in this shading environment, reducing stress and improving production.”
Yvany Uribe Betancur produces milk at the Los Arravanes farm, Entrierros District


The agricultural sector is one of the motors of growth and prosperity in Colombia. The dairy sector produces yearly almost 6800 million liters of milk annually, making it the fourth largest milk producing country in Latin America. The dairy sector accounts for 10% of agricultural GDP, generating around 618 000 jobs in milk production and more than 15 000 in the dairy processing industry. The EU gives priority to sustainable agriculture in its support to Colombia, acknowledging its impact on growth and income and its contribution to environmental protection.

Yvany Uribe Betancur produces milk at the Los Arravanes farm, Entrierros District

  • Improve productivity, promoting adequate infrastructure for production, storage, processing and marketing of milk
  • Encourage horizontal and vertical integration of the value chain
  • Increase competitiveness of the sector through productive conglomerates
  • Ensure supply of quality dairy products responding to domestic and external markets
  • Foster a common framework for sector coordination


  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has increased the allocation to the Dairy Sector from €5.4 million in 2011 to around €27 million in 2015 (representing 3% of the total investment of the Ministry).
  • 132 municipalities from 8 departments have identified livestock value chain with the potential to become a driver for development, promoting sustainable agriculture, contributing to environmental protection and increasing income of livestock dependant population
  • In 2014, 7165 milk producer associations were supported, encouraging multi-stakeholder alliances
  • Between 2012 and 2013, Colombia has move into scaling out climate-smart agriculture options, through the implementation of around 43,600 ha of improved agricultural production systems: 1600 ha of silvopastoral systems and 42,000 ha with grass-legume associations, improved pastures and good agricultural practices for managing livestock


The programme is helping improve agricultural technologies

One component of the project is dedicated to the diffusion of silage conservation practices. According to Julio Cesar Hernandez Grisales, milk producer in the municipality of Sonson, forage conservation in the form of silage has reduced milk production costs by letting him store food for four or five months. 'Silage conservation makes us more efficient, increasing feed supply during the dry season', says Francisco Restrepo Restrepo, another participant in the project.

Another component helps livestock companies specialised in the production of milk improving their administrative management practices. Luz Dary Perez Nareña is a milk producer who has benefitted from software for the management of production costs, provided by the programme: 'The software is very easy to use', says Luz. 'Thanks to it, we can control how expensive it is for us to produce a litre of milk and we understand how to be more efficient.'

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