Climate Smart Dairy Value Chains

The Climate Smart Dairy Value Chains applied research group works to achieve climate objectives through sustainable milk production and efficiently organised dairy chains. Climate-smart dairy farming (as defined by FAO) encompasses: 1. sustainable increases in productivity; 2. modification (adaptation) or prevention (mitigation) of environmental effects; 3. reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, it’s about reducing nitrogen emissions (ammonia) and carbon footprints (the combined total of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen oxides). Circular agriculture, biodiversity and revenue models are all inextricably linked to this. The applied research group is researching how the technical and governance aspects of value chain partnerships can contribute to achieving these aims.

The challenges faced by the dairy sector in the Netherlands and in other western countries are different to those in developing countries, for example. In the Netherlands, there’s strong political and social pressure to extensify, while in Africa calls to increase production are as strong as ever. And the Netherlands is still held up as a positive example. The CSDVC applied research group has three focus countries or regions for its research activities: The Netherlands, East Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda) and West Africa (Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire). This choice of countries is based on the investments made by private sector partners in the Dutch dairy sector in East and West Africa. In the Netherlands, CSDVC will focus on maintaining or extensifying milk production and reducing its environmental impact, while in developing countries it will focus on sustainable production increases with minimal environmental impacts as well as on inclusive relationships within the value chain.

The work of the CSDVC applied research group is based on three research questions, and all three of them apply both to the Netherlands and to low- and middle-income countries:

  • What are the ideal climate-smart dairy farming and dairy value chain practices?
  • What are the socio-economic benefits and added value associated with promising milk production and dairy chain practices?
  • What are effective strategies for scaling up sustainable practices?

The first research question relates to technical aspects, while the second and third are about choices we make.


Everything published by the Climate Smart Dairy Value Chains applied research group can be found on  Greeni, the online library for the green universities of applied sciences.

About the professor

Robert Baars was born in 1962 and obtained an MSc in Tropical Livestock in 1988 before defending his PhD thesis in 1996, both at the University of Wageningen. His work has focused on the integration of education, applied research and agricultural practice, both in the Netherlands and in tropical contexts. He initially specialised in rangeland management but over time he has shifted his focus onto the dairy value chain and climate-smart dairy farming. He has more than 30 years of international experience, including 13 years living and working abroad in Zambia, Costa Rica and Ethiopia. Robert has been a staff member at Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences since 2002, focusing on the development and implementation of VHL Master’s programmes and international projects, including various international consultancy assignments in higher education.

His research projects have produced 25 referenced scientific publications.

Knowledge network (2022)

The CSDVC applied research group supports and feeds into five VHL study programmes:

  • Master’s in Agricultural Production Chain Management
  • Master’s in Innovative Dairy Chain Management
  • Bachelor’s in Animal Husbandry
  • Bachelor’s in Business Administration and Agribusiness
  • Bachelor’s in International Development Management

HVHL staff in the applied research group’s knowledge network:

  • Marco Verschuur (Master’s in APCM)
  • Jacob Duinstra (Master’s in IDCM)
  • Esther Kapsoot (Master’s in IDCM)
  • Nyasha Ngirande (Master’s in IDCM)
  • Ronald Zom (Bachelor’s in Animal Husbandry)
  • Martien de Haas (Bachelor’s in Animal Husbandry)
  • Peter Smit (project manager)

Want to know more?

If you have any questions about the applied research group, please email [email protected].

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