The Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) hosted a representative of a Pakistan dairy project on Monday as part of the organization’s entrepreneur project for women in impoverished communities.
Ramzan Buriro , project manager of Engro Foods Corp. in Pakistan, is part of the collaborative initiative to improve livestock management practices in the country. He had a chance to tour the Wallenstein Feed Mill and the Grootendorst Farms in Breslau to see how dairy farming is done in Canada.As a MEDA partner in the project to better the economic endeavors of Pakistan’s women, Buriro was to be accompanied by two female representatives. The entrepreneur associated with MEDA and a veterinarian were, however, denied Canadian visas for the trip.
“Our whole women’s empowerment is that we’re working with the women because they have very little,” said MEDA’s regional director Marion Good of the Women’s Empowerment Through Livestock Development (WELD) project.
With the aim of improving the county’s dairy production, Buriro said focusing on female entrepreneurs and farmers is a key part of the process.
“In Pakistan about 70 per cent of livestock farming is rural based, and it’s a family business over there. More than 80 per cent of livestock managing practices are being done by the women. We believe if those management practices are fine-tuned it can have better impact on the milk yield,” he explained.
So far the project has created a number of female entrepreneurs who are beginning to make more money through their farming businesses and on average make approximately $40 a month. It may not seem like much, but in a country where much of the population lives below the poverty line the improvement is seen as progress, according to Buriro.
Engro Foods owns nine companies in Pakistan and diverts two per cent of their net profits to fund social programs through the corporation’s Engo Foundation. Through MEDA, Buriro was introduced to Wendell Schumm of Wallenstein Feed and Supply Ltd., one of MEDA’s sponsors. During the day, the Engro Foods representative toured the feed mill before heading to Grootendorst Farms in Breslau, where co-owner Henk Grootendorst was able to demonstrate some best-management techniques on the dairy farm.
In Pakistan a large portion of the dairy businesses are smaller, rural-based and family-owned operations where buffalo are traditionally the milking animal. Cows can still be found in more commercial businesses with higher yields.
MEDA has been implementing economic development programs for people living in poverty for almost 60 years. They work with local corporations and organizations like Engro in order to ensure the continuation of the programs in the countries well after the completion of MEDA projects.
“Making Market Linkages is what we call it. We try to find where’s the gap in the whole system. In the production or from inception to the final market, what’s missing? And we try to find a place to bridge that gap so that the whole chain will be complete and that it will be sustainable and that they will benefit,” said MEDA’s Linda Whitmore.
Buriro said there was “a lot of learning,” involved in the trip. “This is totally new for us. A lot of the experience where the management is concerned is very good a very successful trip.”