VSO contributes to dairy processing development in Tajikistan

In Tajikistan many workers move to Russia in search of work and better opportunities. In the northern town of Khojand, VSO is piloting a programme of partnering with private businesses to provide opportunities for the local community. One such partnership includes Mr Mirzosulton and his dairy farm, Correct.

Mr Mirzosulton's Correct dairy farm helps to reduce poverty in the region by working with local dairy producers. It employs more than 40 full-time workers and gets milk for processing from over 100 small-scale producers in neighbouring villages.

“We provide work for full-time workers who would otherwise migrate to Russia to work on building sites, leaving women behind to care for all the needs of their extended families. Our workers receive significantly more than workers in Dushanbe, despite the fact that here in Khojand the cost of living is less.”

The workers at the farm receive good benefits and even have access to a fund for family emergencies. Mirzosulton explains the farm’s ethics by explaining its unusual name: “I want us to be correct in quality, correct as a person, correct in every way.”

As well as processing milk, the farm also offers opportunities for local women to sell their milk products back to the farm at competitive rates.

Successful partnership

In early 2010, VSO partnered with Correct, by placing Latvian dairy processing expert, Viesturs Krilovs, on a short-term placement. Viesturs has ample experience in the industry including establishing a dairy-processing factory in Russia and helping Latvian dairy processors shift from Soviet to European standards. His role at Correct was a volunteer dairy-processing adviser.

With Viesturs help, Mr Mirzosulton, developed plans to expand his factory, improve processing management and increase his workforce to more than 60 full-time employees. His plan could potential provide contracts to hundreds of small-scale milk producers, securing more livelihoods in the region.

According to Mirzosulton, “Viesturs has provided a very high level of expertise to Correct. When I worked with consultants in the past they have only been able to answer six out of my ten questions. Viesturs has the experience and technical background to answer all my questions and always comes up with suggestions that are realistic for the context. He has helped with the management aspects of dairy processing, equipment, quality and he really considers everything”.

The partnership has been so successful that Mirzosulton is considering contracting Viesturs to advise him on his new factory. 

 Mirzosulton has also agreed to host a guided visit, organised by VSO, for members of the women’s co-operative, Zamzam. The women’s co-operative provides opportunities for rural women in the district to earn a livelihood.  This includes through wool production and dairy processing. The visit will enable the women to learn about Mirzosulton’s experience of transforming Correct – from kitchen production like theirs – to the successful business it is today.

VSO Tajikistan hopes to work with many other community-based businesses in the near future.

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