Dairy products have always constituted an essential component in the Mediterranean diet. In addition to their nutritional values, they also represent a part of the cultural heritage of the people. Prospects for a sustainable dairy sector in the Mediterranean, preconditions for its development and the future consumer demand were some of the issues covered by the papers presented at the EAAP - CIHEAM - FAO Mediterranean symposium. It was organized by the Tunisian Office for Livestock and Pastures and the National Agronomic Research Institute and supported by the Government of Tunisia, FAO, ICAR and CIRVAL. Over 280 participants from 25 countries took part. The symposium identified a variety of technically viable and scientifically sound policy options, and defined the main fields requiring further scientific research and the development of new sustainable technologies. The available technologies to address intensive, semi-intensive and extensive production systems and the existing institutional framework (research, education, extension systems, organization of the sector), although requiring continuous adjustments and improvements, have proved to be in a position to meet a variety of demands and challenges. In this respect, the Symposium called for an increase in research for the semi-intensive farming systems in the South and emerging issues resulting from changes in agricultural policies in the North. It emphasized the importance of producers associations as representatives of the interests of the sector and partners in the overall dialogue on policy matters and in the identification of research needs. The Symposium confirmed the wish and capacity of the dairy sector in the region to contribute to the sustainable rural development, to the creation of new employment opportunities and to the reasonable and harmonious management of the natural resources.
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