People: Javier Guitian, Matteo Crotta, Bhagya Chengat Prakashbabu, Hannah Holt, Ben Swift

As in other Low and Middle Income Countries, the dairy industry in Andhra Pradesh (AP) is intensifying and its output increasing to satisfy the growing demand for milk and dairy products, which are an essential component of the diets of many AP residents. Furthermore, the State has high levels of rural poverty and the livelihoods of many families are linked to activities along the milk supply chain. Women play an important role at the production stages but do not have the same access to resources and opportunities (e.g. access to markets and milk commercialization) and are not well represented in the governance structures. The expansion of dairy production in AP has taken place without food safety challenges being fully addressed. Improving the safety of milk and dairy products in AP is now a public health priority, however, there are limited data on which to base food safety controls, guidelines and regulations. Furthermore, potential undesirable effects that enhancing milk hygiene controls may have on the participation of the rural poor in milk supply chains and on access of vulnerable populations to safe milk and dairy products are not well understood.

In this project, we tackle safety of milk and dairy products in AP by addressing three elements of the problem:

  1. Lack of good quality data on presence of microbiological hazards in the dairy chains of AP
  2. Limited adoption of good farming practices and milk hygiene practices
  3. The need for milk quality policies that are not only effective but also realistic, sustainable and equitable.

Our work plan combines microbiological surveys of milk and dairy products, probabilistic modelling of the likely impact of control strategies and strong stakeholder engagement including participatory model building to explore the broad implications of milk hygiene policies and identify gender based constraints. Our approach relies on the use of risk assessment frameworks, which are well established as tools to support food-safety policies worldwide, but yet to be widely adopted in LMICs. This risk modelling methodology will be combined with system dynamics (SD) modelling, a holistic approach for studying the behaviour of complex systems incorporating feedback mechanisms which could undermine the effectiveness of policies over time or result in unintended consequences. 

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