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Story by | Anna Karnaukh | Communication and PR Coordinator | Heifer Ukraine
Colleagues from Heifer Georgia and Heifer Poland visited Heifer Ukraine’s office in Kyiv as part of an exchange visit. The staff from Ukraine warmly greeted their guests during their visit on September 5, 2012, and shared information on the implementation of some of their larger and more complex projects.
A short presentation was made on the Strawberry Communities/Ecofruit Project, funded by Danone Ecosystem Fund, Dansource and Heifer International. The presentation included detailed information on the project price model and technology used in planting and irrigating strawberries. During a review on what had already been done, the visiting colleagues learned that the first 10 hectares were planted this year, with the first harvest expected in 2013; a water reservoir and drip irrigation system were installed; and a tractor with mounted equipment was purchased. The project already created 50 jobs for people from Losiatyn village and a few more jobs for residents from nearby villages. This means that more than 50 people can now stay with their families in Ukraine instead of going abroad to search for a job. The number of people employed through the project is expected to increase to 250 next year. Georgia staff shared their experiences with strawberry planting technologies and expressed an interest in strawberry seedlings, as there are currently no certified strawberry seedling nurseries in Georgia. Likewise, staff from Heifer Poland talked about growing strawberries in Poland, specifically highlighting the country’s strawberry market as it pertains to the sales of fresh and frozen strawberries.
The Milk Communities Project, funded by the Danone Ecosystem Fund and Heifer International, is the first non-French project funded by the Danone Ecosystem Fund and is closely monitored by both the Ukrainian Danone team and the Paris Ecosystem Fund team. As of June 2012, the project team proudly reported that 18 co-ops were already supplying milk to milk processors. During Fiscal Year 2012, 4,160 tons of milk were collected and sold for $182,000. In addition, 100 highly productive sows and 201 pedigree heifers were delivered to members of co-ops to improve incomes and milk supply. Thanks to the new pricing and bonus system introduced in the villages, people now have the opportunity to earn a premium for good quality milk, which is determined by a high fat content. Moreover, a pilot credit program is being tested within this project in which low interest-rate credits were distributed to small producers with three or more cows, to give them a chance to scale up and improve their animal keeping and feeding. This was made possible by a collaboration of grassroots credit unions and co-ops, financed by the Danone Ecosystem Fund. Nutrition improved for people in this area, as they have easier access to milk and meat. The average rates of consumption increased by 11.8 percent for milk and 30.6 percent for meat. An increase in income and production of products, especially meat, was illustrated by this trend.
Guests also learned about the progress of the Cooperative Learning Farm and Services project. The construction of the first hangar-type farm for 60 cows was completed. The new learning farm has 60 stalls for keeping the dairy herd, an automatic milking room for four cows and a classroom where co-op members learn modern methods of cow keeping, feeding and breeding. The project will provide resources for constructing five small family-type farms where co-op members will be trained to develop their own small dairy farms. Sixty purebred Holsteins were delivered from Austria and have already begun calving.
The visitors attended “Abro 2012,” an annual fair dedicated to agricultural development in Ukraine. At the fair, they saw new technologies and breeds of animals and birds, which they negotiated importing to Georgia.
Heifer Ukraine warmly welcomes colleagues from any and all Heifer country programs. We have much to learn from each other. Through sharing, we can develop innovative ideas for future project implementation.