Cheese expert from Turkey advises Afghan dairy manufacturing company
A cheese master from Turkey reflects on his time advising a dairy manufacturing company in Afghanistan, which Prime is supporting as part of a livestock industries development project.
Right: Milk and dairy products production specialist Mustafa Ertan on assignment in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan.
Mustafa Ertan, who has 35 years’ international experience in the dairy processing sector, was based in Mazar-i-Sharif for several weeks in August 2019, while completing training programmes for staff at a newly established dairy processing making factory.
The company, Sultan Taza, is an “exemplary organisation”, despite suffering from technological inadequacies and other difficulties, Mr Ertan says. It opened its factory doors about a year and a half ago and already processes a tonne of milk per day.
Sultan Taza is one of several ‘anchor firms’ in Afghanistan receiving support from the AVC-Livestock project, aimed at supporting the development of numerous ‘anchor firms’ in Afghanistan’s poultry, small ruminant, dairy and other livestock sectors.
The company sources its raw milk from a dozen suppliers, which in turn source their milk from between 60 to 200 rural dairy producers each — providing valuable employment for small rural households.
Mr Ertan conducted training for Sultan Taza and its suppliers on a variety of topics relating to dairy manufacturing, including milk hygiene, workplace health and safety, raw milk intake criteria, laboratory analysis methods, milk standardisation, machinery repair and maintenance and best practice methods for the collection and transport of milk.
He also held workshops on how to produce numerous new milk products such as buttermilk, cheddar, mozzarella, feta, curd, butter, dried yoghurt and fruit yoghurt.
Mr Ertan says he observed several initial changes at Sultan Taza as a result of the trainings, including improved product quality, increased staff confidence and better company morale overall.
There was also an increase of awareness and knowledge at the supplier level and an increase in production and milk quality at the farmer level.
Mr Ertan believes a focus on youth is key to ensuring sustainable growth of the dairy manufacturing sector in Afghanistan and says those who receive training through sector involvement should be rewarded with official certifications.
“Afghan youth are very smart and intelligent. The youth that we are educating can train others in this sector and this will increase employment.”
Mr Ertan also met with Board members of Sultan Taza to help with management issues.
AVC-Livestock is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is being implemented by a consortium led by USA-based firm DAI.