First cooperative dairy farmers’ union established in Afghanistan

AFGHANISTAN - Some 400 dairy farmers from seven cooperative societies in the southeastern Logar and central Wardak provinces have set up the first ever cooperative dairy union in Afghanistan in an effort to boost production and marketing of pasteurised milk and other dairy products, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
calendar icon 7 December 2006
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The union was established with help from the FAO and the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry (MAAH), and has been registered as the first private cooperative dairy union by the agriculture ministry, Assadullah Azhari, FAO public information officer, said in Kabul on Wednesday.

In conjunction with MAAH, the FAO has also given a week-long training course on organisation and management of cooperatives to 46 leaders of farmers’ cooperatives and dairy technical field staff.

Afghanistan’s Minister for Agriculture Obaidullah Ramin said that the move was a significant step towards improving the private sector and encouraging livestock in Afghanistan, where some 85 percent of population depend on agriculture.

“We are planning to create hundreds of such independent farmers’ unions across the country in order to reduce current food insecurity, poverty and unemployment,” Ramin said.

The government believes the new initiative will be a significant step in tackling food security in the post-conflict nation where some 2.5 million people are currently facing a looming food crisis due to this year’s harsh drought.

Zakaria Ahmadzai, head of Kabul Dairy Union, said that each day their union sells some 3,500 litres of pasteurised milk and diary products after processing at the Guzargah Dairy in Kabul city.

“I had only one thin, black cow two years ago… when I first started selling milk through our local cooperative but, thank God, now there are five cows in my house with lots of milk to sell,” 55-year-old Gul Rahman, a farmer from Ibrahimkhail village in Wardak province, said.

“It is not only me who earns money but my wife too… who milks and looks after the cows,” Rahman added.

Tek B. Thafa, senior dairy advisor with the FAO, said that the initiative was aimed at boosting income generation among impoverished rural communities.

“Dairy farmers get twice as much profit from selling milk through their cooperatives,” Thafa explained.

Meanwhile, FAO officials announced that by March 2007 the Guzargah Dairy in Kabul city will be upgraded with modern milk processing facilities, to produce pasteurised milk in pouches, yoghurt, butter, ice-cream and other products. If the plant operated in two shifts, it would be able to market 10,000 litres of pasteurised milk per day.

Due to consecutive years of drought many pastures across the country have deteriorated or failed to provide enough grass for hundreds of thousands of sheep and domestic animals, resulting in a considerable decline in the number of cattle and severely affecting farmers’ livelihoods across the country, experts say.

TheCattleSite News Desk 

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