UN SRSG lends support to Afghanistan’s dairy farmers

1UN Special Representative Kai Eide has urged more investment in Afghanistan’s agricultural industry and the buying of more Afghan products and services.

Speaking during a visit to the Kabul Dairy Union, the Special Representative praised a project supported by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which has boosted the opportunity for dairy farmers to increase their earnings and get their products to markets.

SRSG Eide said: “I would like to see that we invest more in these kinds of businesses and that we see agriculture in Afghanistan grow.”

The Kabul Dairy Union is a unique project, replicated in the cities of Kunduz, Mazar and Herat, where dairy farmers have come together in cooperatives to sell their milk on the open market rather than just producing enough for their families or villages.

“I wanted to come here to see and support an important project which provides training, it provides the ability for the farmers to develop commercial production which is so important, it also provides a start to Afghanistan’s agricultural industry which is important and it also provides Afghan products for Afghan people,” noted SRSG Eide.

The project has seen the annual income of a dairy farmer rise from US$ 48 in 1999 to US$540. Cows are now producing six litres of surplus milk a day with the improved technology available compared to only 1.1 litres. The Kabul dairy currently handles 5000 litres of milk a day for processing into pasteurised milk, cream, yoghurt and butter. The dairy’s products are sold through 11 sales outlets in and around Kabul meaning around US$ 1700 a day from sales goes back to 620 rural farmers who are part of the project.

Dr. Mustafa Zafar, the General Director of the Guzargah Dairy Plant said that one of the main benefits of the programme is that it has introduced animal husbandry as a commercial business for farmers. “This union has had a fundamental change on Afghan livestock culture as there was no culture of selling products before. The products were not of a high quality and people just sold in their own area. Now everyone in the villages would like to sell milk,” he added.

Tekeste Tekie FAO’s Representative in Afghanistan said: “We train the farmers how to improve their yield of milk. From the beginning of this year another union will open in Nangarhar and we want to duplicate this in other areas where there is potential for milk production to substitute the imports from neighbouring countries.”