On the milky way to South Hebron – II: Strengthening the cooperation network between small sheep breeders from the Masafer Yatta region and the local dairy production co-operative in the Hebron district, on the West Bank of Jordan
Background and description of needs
On the West Bank of Jordan, in the southern part of the Hebron province, there is a region called Masafer Yatta. It is inhabited by a community of a few thousands Palestinian breeders who lead modest and peaceful lives in settlements of tents and caves. This very culturally traditional group still relies on non-mechanized agriculture and traditional breeding.
Poor milking and collection conditions and domestic methods used by the breeders increase the risks of milk contamination and lower its quality and therefore may pose great danger to consumers’ health. In the past, contaminated dairy caused spreading of zoonosis among consumers and since then, the local dairy market has not been interested in the local dairy products. This lack of trust for the quality of a product has a significant impact on the offered price.
Continuation of the 2010 project
Within the framework of the first part of the project realized in 2010, PCIA created a cooperation network that established a milk collection center in one of the settlements. At the center, in the controlled and hygienic conditions, milk is collected from the local breeders and later sold to a small dairy factory run by the co-operative uniting local breeders. Milk is cooled during collection and undergoes the process of pasteurization before production, which results in dairy products safe for consumers. In this way, breeders gained a steady source of income from selling milk to the co-operative. To improve the level of breeding farms and the quantity and quality of collected milk, PCIA organized a series of trainings and workshops and also improved the farms’ infrastructure. The production co-operative was furnished with additional production equipment. PCIA also took care of improving the market for the new products on the local dairy market.
Within the few months of working together and assisting beneficiaries of the project in changing the way their farms are organized, we made a number of observations. In the already functioning and yielding first results structure we tried to find the weakest, most problematic spots, which in the future might shake the stability of the freshly launched system.
The most urgent problem for the breeders is a small amount of rain and steady increase of fodder prices. Once lush pastures presently can only provide a few months (2-3 months) of the open pasturing of animals. For the rest of the year, the breeders are forced to invest large sums of money into dry fodder. Expenses grow month after month due to significant fluctuations on the global grains market and the consequences of the global crisis.
Described process leads to enduring fodder shortage which immediately impacts animals’ health and often causes irreversible consequences by influencing animals’ reproduction (lowering the number of animals in a herd) and the frequency (duration of so-called ‚dry months’), amount, and quality of the yielded milk. Animals do not receive enough food, which additionally does not provide enough nutritive values.
Project’s progression (as of July 12, 2011)
We’re in the fourth month of the project’s realization among sheep breeders in the Massafer Yatta region located in the southern part of the Hebron district.
This year, apart from the constant improvement of the breeding and production technological level, we try to popularize new types of fodder – solutions based on mixed fodder and using and making of silage. These modern methods are aimed to help in optimizing yielded results in the face of a several years’ drought that has been ravaging the region and water shortages caused by the restrictions introduced by Israeli authorities.
Until now, we have provided trainings to 40 breeders on:
- comparing different methods of feeding sheep;
- methods of making silage;
- feeding adult sheep and differences in a diet of the young ones;
- co-operative management.
- We’re also planning one additional training on communication and conflict resolution.
In order to improve the level of work performance, the local production co-operative, Al Mintar, that collects milk from local breeders had been equipped with a vacuum packing device for produced goods which should positively impact the best-before time of the offered dairy products. 1,000 copies of a leaflet informing about the co-operative and promoting its products have been designed. They contain information on the project, logos of the organizations implementing the project and the project’s donor, Polish Aid.
Within the next two weeks, study visits will be organized for the project’s beneficiaries. During the first one, accomplishments of the breeding farms from the northern regions of the West Bank will be presented. Breeders will visit breeding farms of different level of development and production advancement located in the vicinity of Jenin. Second visit is planned to take place in Israel. It will be aimed at presenting adaptation of modern breeding technologies increasing production results.
Over the project duration time, there will be field visits to breeding farms during which expert consultations will be held.
Each breeder will receive 25kg of powder milk which will be used as a substitute for mother’s milk for young lambs. It will increase the amount of yielded milk and prevent very dangerous diseases of udders.
In the framework of the project, 360 field visits of a veterinarian and a breeding technician will be organized. They will be monitoring both animals’ heath and the ongoing changes in the work organization.
The educational component of the project will be designed to reach both breeders and employees of the dairy production co-operative. Knowledge will be passed during trainings and workshops, as well as during visits to model farms in different parts of the region.
One of the project’s objectives is to improve the quality of the offered dairy products produced by the co-operative. This will include implementing a new technology of vacuum packing and running a promotional campaign.
Within the framework of the project, additional expenses connected with equipment and tools purchase, personnel salaries, trainings, workshops, field visits and seminars, support and consultations, promotional campaign, and other administrative project-related expenses will be paid for.
The project was launched in March 2011. The Palestinian Livehood Cooperatives Union is involved in the project’s execution as a local partner of the project.
The grant, amounting to PLN 335,306, received under the Polish Aid program of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2011