As Afghanistan continues its march towards a more secure and stable future, economic opportunities abound that benefit both producers and consumers. The Balkh Livestock Dairy Union Factory, established in 2002, is a perfect example.
Created with the intent of providing a local market for local dairy farmers, the factory is now in direct competition with imported dairy products from large international corporations.
According to Mohammad Mosa, director of the factory, it received a much needed upgrade in 2007 with funds from the aid organizations GIZ and USAID. Capacity has increased by a factor of 1,000 and there is now 35 full time staff.
Currently there are 12 raw milk collection centres that send 6,000 litres of milk per day to the factory for processing. Each day the factory turns out 2,000 litres of milk, 1,500 litres of yogurt and the rest is turned into cheese and cream. The success of the operation is such that the union plans on purchasing refrigerated trucks to send products to other provinces.
Success has not been limited to the factory; the products have created a profitable business for the many shops and stores in the Mazar-e Sharif area. “Imported dairy products are of lower quality and have a higher price, these Afghan products are perfect for us and the consumer,” Mohammad Arif, a shopkeeper in downtown Mazar, said.
Arif says that each day his store sells 200 litres of milk and 100 containers of yogurt and cream from the factory. The entire chain, from the farmer to the factory employee, to the shopkeeper and ultimately to the consumer is profiting from the local nature of the products.
“I prefer to buy yogurt that is from Afghanistan, it is cheaper and better; it is made from real milk and not powder, like many of the products that are imported to Afghanistan,” a Mazar resident, Mohibullah, said.
This home-grown investment capability is vital to the future growth of Afghanistan. Afghan raw materials are turned into high quality products by Afghan workers for Afghan consumers. This template is being replicated in other industries and in other provinces across the country; and all point towards a bright future for Afghanistan.