FAO and the European Union: a real partnership with diary producers and empowering rural women
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture-Ninewa Agriculture Directorate, and through the European Union (EU) funded project "support to agricultural livelihoods of rural and peri-urban returnees and communities in Nineveh Governorate, Iraq", held a four-day intensive training on improving manufacture and marketing of traditional dairy products. 75 dairy producers participated including 50 women from Zummar district, Telkaif district, and the city of Mosul.
This training provided an opportunity for the participants to learn about good practices for handling and processing dairy products with practical samples to make these products. During this training, the health aspects to process traditional dairy products were emphasized with the introduction of new techniques on how to process different types of cheese that the Iraqi consumer wants and which have been imported from neighboring countries and they can be manufactured locally.
This aims to obtain healthy and safe dairy products and to promote simple ideas to produce distinctive products that can be competitive in the market. The women dairy producers also received training on the use of pasteurizer, how to follow the good milk hygiene standards and to ensure the hygiene of the device under the supervision of FAO Iraq's International Livestock Value Chain Expert, Dr. Chedly Kayouli.
Dr. Kayouli stressed during the training on the importance of examining milk before use to obtain the highest quality products. The female extension officers carried out the laboratory examination in the presence of all participants to consolidate the examination process through practical practice.
"FAO is striving to establish a real partnership with the dairy producers and to empower them, which is a priority for the organization. This will help them to support their families' income. It is necessary to activate the role of women milk producers in particular. These trainings seek to improve the capacity of the sector and to contribute to the national development in preserving local products and improving their quality", says FAO Representative in Iraq, Dr. Salah ElHajj Hassan.
On the training's practical side, focusing on cheese making, FAO Iraq's expert Dr. Kayouli, highlights that: "a participatory and interactive approach was followed to reflect the spirit of teamwork and self-development, which contributed to the development of new types of cheese for the first time in Iraq and Nineveh in particular."
The women participants liked the new produced varieties of cheese and their wonderful taste, and they emphasized that they are learning this to supply the local market. "At the beginning, we used the traditional methods. Nowadays, with thanks to FAO's practical training, we have been able to use modern techniques, starting with the process of examining the milk and learning to use the equipment. In addition, we learned modern methods of processing cheese and new types that are popular in the local market," says dairy producer Houda Khalid Jamil from Al-Hamdania, who participated in the training held in Zummar district.
"We look forward to the continued support of FAO and the European Union to improve the manufacture of these products and the development of the household industry to meet the growing market needs," Houda adds.
This EU funded project's contributions formed advanced and successful models of partnership with dairy producers and enabled thousands of families in Nineveh, especially returnees, to improve their income, to develop their businesses and to create new job opportunities.