Spearheading adaptation dialogue in Uruguay: The dairy system

Last Updated: 31 May 2017

Montevideo, 3 April, 2017  The Uruguay Integrating Agriculture in National Adaptation Plans (NAP-AG) Team organized the first in a series of Adaptation Dialogues. These dialogues will be a key component in formulating the country's National Adaptation Plan (NAP).

The series of participatory discussions will help key stakeholders in Uruguay to collect more information and better evaluate adaptation options. The results of this work will then inform the creation of public policies and priority action areas of the adaptation plan.

The Adaptation Dialogues in Uruguay are organized following the seven main production systems in the country: dairy, beef cattle, irrigated rice, forestry, horticulture and crop production, plus a cross-cutting dialogue that will include discussions on family farming.

The first Adaptation Dialogue was held on 3 April in Montevideo and focused on the dairy production system. Farmers, researchers, and technical officers from the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Dairy Institute of Uruguay were all in attendance.

Walter Oyhantçabal, Director of the Agricultural Sustainability and Climate Change Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, opened the event with an overview of the present and future climate in Uruguay and its effect on agricultural production. This presentation was followed by Dr. Santiago Fariña, Director of the Dairy Research Program of the National Agricultural Research Institute, who shared his vision on the challenges of dairy production in Uruguay. These two presentations set the stage for a conversation on the vulnerabilities, gaps and barriers for adaptation in dairy production systems, and on identifying adaptation alternatives for dairy production systems in Uruguay.

The three main climatic challenges at farm-level that were identified during the Adaptation Dialogue were: excess rainfall, water deficit and drought, and heat stress. The participants indicated that currently there is a lack of tools and infrastructure to successfully adapt the national dairy production system to climate change and variability.

Dialogue participants were in consensus that direct grazing of pastures with strategic farm-produced forage reserves used as dietary supplements - with as little out-of-farm inputs as possible - are necessary for effective climate change adaptation. This system requires infrastructure for cooling and shading cattle during the summer, and roads and flooring that can channel excessive rainfall in a way that mud does not affect cattle movement and crop production.

Looking into the future, the dialogue emphasized the key social and economic aspects of dairy production. There was a general view that there is a need to develop production systems that attract younger generations to the farms. In that respect, automated systems that allow time for rest and leisure will be critical. There was also an emphasis on the need for financial instruments, climate risk insurance and funds to help soften the effect of price fluctuations and increased costs of production associated with extreme climate events.

The next dialogue in the series will take place on 11 May and will focus on family farming. Learn more about the dialogue with videos (in Spanish) on dairy production in the face of climate change, how the Adaptation Dialogues will deal with climate change and variability, and how a dairy producer is coping with the changing climate.  

The FAO-UNDP Integrating Agriculture in National Adaptation Plans Programme supports partner countries to identify and integrate climate adaptation measures for the agricultural sector into relevant national planning and budgeting processes. It is a multi-year initiative funded by the German Government that responds to country driven needs.