The minister of agriculture, Nasir Ahmad Durani, on Tuesday attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a milk processing factory in Kabul which will have the capacity to process 80,000 liters of milk in 24 hours.
Over $3.3 million has been invested in the project, which is funded by International Fund For Agricultural Development, IFAD, with technical support of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the minister said.
The factory is located in the Reeshkhor area in western Kabul.
Durani, who addressed people gathered for a ceremony at the factory, said Afghanistan needs two million tons of milk annually and that local companies provide 92 percent of this need.
“Lack of action by the private sector in investment in this sector is one of our challenges in agriculture. They should build processing factories so that we can solve our problems in this sector,” Durani added.
“In order to create market opportunities for locally-produced milk, FAO has facilitated the establishment of five milk processing plants in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kunduz Herat and Jalalabad,” FAO representative Fabrizio Cesaretti said.
Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), said milk from local farms of 10,000 farmers from Logar, Maidan Wardak, Kabul and Parwan will be sent to the factory for processing.
The factory will produce pasteurized milk, yogurt, cream, butter and cheese.
Figures by MAIL show that over 1.9 million tons of milk are produced by local factories in the country on an annual basis.
According to the MAIL figures, over 335,000 people are working in the livestock sector, of which 51 percent are women. But the statistics show that Afghanistan annually imports dairy products worth $60 million.
“The collected milk by our cooperative is often wasted due to lack of processing factories,” said Zakaria Ahmadzai, head of the Kabul Diary Union.