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In pursuit of a sustainable dairy development agenda and recognising the need to boost livelihoods of smallholder dairy farmers, NDDB organized a five-day orientation programme for the women dairy cooperative members from the provinces of Kabul, Logar and Parwan of Afghanistan during 7-11, December 2015 at NDDB, Anand. This programme is a sequel to the NDDB-F AO collaborative regional meeting held at Anand during March 2015, where experts and policy makers from Asia and the Pacific met to discuss and adopt a strategic framework for sustainable dairy development in Asia.

Shri T Nanda Kumar, Chairman, NDDB said that dairying provides food , family nutrition and incomes to women. Engagement of women needs to be viewed as a tool for socio-economic empowerment. He said that improving smallholder organizations’ capabilities to give them a better bargaining power in the market is extremely important. The women participants are mainly village group leaders, capacity building trainers, district trainers and livestock experts. They were here to learn the Indian perspective of cooperative dairying. The delegation were presented with an overview of the history, growth and achievements ofNDDB and the various dairy development initiatives taken by NDDB. Discussions were held on the innovations introduced by NDDB in Animal Breeding, Health and Nutrition which contribute to increase productivity. They also visited dairy plants and village dairy cooperatives at Anand.
During the training, participants were keen to know about new methods/technologies adopted in- milk processing, increasing milk production, milking practices, capacity building, cattle management, manufacturing dairy products and expanding market for milk & milk products. They have also expressed their desire to motivate people and organisations to invest capital in setting up dairy machinery manufacturing plants. They felt that the values and principles of cooperative dairying can work wonders for the Afghan dairy industry.

Meeting Meenaben, a woman dairy farmer at the Shekhdi Dairy Cooperative Society has been quite inspiring for the participants. A brief glance and tete-a-tete with Meenaben and her husband Atulbhai Pate! have enthused them to share their success story with the people of Afghanistan. Their visit to Shekhdi Dairy Cooperative Society and Padgol Women Dairy Cooperative Society helped them understand the functioning of a dairy cooperative society, governance and milk business. They have seen how regular fat testing and transparency are important for giving better remuneration based on the quality of milk. They have observed the benefits of installation of Automatic Milk Collection Unit (AMCU), which makes the entire milk collection system smooth and transparent. It also minimizes adulteration issues and help increase milk production.

Women Cooperative members of Afganistan

The participants felt that women dairy cooperative societies can encourage women participation and thus help in empowering them. The participants agreed that dairying can help women survive in Afghanistan. They opined that if Afghanistan can stabilize dairying, the economy of the region will prosper and children will get proper nutrition. To make the learning more effective and impactful the participants made action plan for improving activities of
Afghan dairy industry in their provinces. The action plan included strengthening cooperatives, preparing strategies for inclusion of more women in dairying, interventions for making the dairy cooperatives viable and also ways and means of increasing quality milk procurement.

Development of dairy industry through the Integrated Dairy Schemes (IDS) has been considered a success for the livestock sector in Afghanistan. This approach is being implemented by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in close collaboration with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan ‘s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL). Five dairy Unions of Afghanistan have their milk processing plants in Kunduz, Nangarhar, Herat, Kabul and Balkh provinces. Another dairy plant is being planned to be established in Kabul. The milk processing
plants have a total milk processing capacity of 27 MT I day (single shift).