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Story and Photos by Heifer Ukraine Staff
An opening ceremony was held for Ukraine’s first milk-processing cooperative plant, Molochnyi krai, in Chernivtsi oblast on October 23, 2012.
The enterprise was established by Hospodar Pidhiria, a union of agricultural service cooperatives, within the framework of the Dairy Sector Development in Bukovyna Region project, implemented by Heifer Ukraine and supported by local authorities.
The cooperative milk-processing enterprise, with production capacity of 12 tons of milk per shift, is located in Panka village, Storozhynets raion. The reconstruction to install milk-processing equipment started in 2011 and is now completed, with the equipment purchased and installed. This is the first cooperative milk processing facility in Ukraine owned directly by the smallholders, the milk producers.
The goal of the project is to increase the income of individual raw milk producers by involving them in the processing and marketing of dairy products through the co-op enterprise, thus providing them with added value.
The project is an example of a successful public-private partnership, with the rural communities receiving support not only from Heifer Ukraine, but from local budgets as well. The Chernivtsi Oblast council allocated $100,000 for the project, and $48,000 was received from the Storozhynets raion state administration. A contribution equivalent to $72,000, in the form of co-op members’ shares, enabled the union to launch the enterprise.
Support from the local authorities is crucial for the successful work of the milk-processing enterprise. The cooperative milk plant will supply products to local schools, kindergartens and hospitals, which are financed from government funds. This arrangement will guarantee sales of about 50 percent of the dairy products, and on the other reduce government spending because of lower prices.
The milk will be supplied by the rural families in the Hospodar Pidhiria union. Eight additional milk collection centers are planned to open in the neighboring villages. This will allow processing the expected volume of high-quality milk and increasing the income of the local individual milk producers who established this enterprise.
On November 4, 2012, the enterprise was visited by Heifer International representatives Steve Denne, Chief Operating Officer, and Cindy Jones-Nyland, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Resource Development. They had the chance to communicate with members and leaders of the co-ops as well as with the director of the co-op processing enterprise and his staff. It was a good chance to observe the production process and taste the first product of that enterprise–fresh local cheese called Brynza. In addition, a variety of other dairy products will be launched this month including packaged raw milk, sour cream and in a few months the enterprise will scale up from processing of three tons of milk to up to 12 tons. The guests were extremely satisfied and impressed by the results achieved by the community launching the enterprise.