Automation Makes A Rural Woman’s Life Easier

Speeches Shim

Thursday, July 29, 2021
“My arms will get a little rest. The milking machine is great; milking is much faster now, and the quality of the milk is much better,” said Kateryna.

Kateryna Tytarchuk, 62, lives in the village of Knyazha Krynytsia, Cherkasy Oblast. Like many of her neighbors, she keeps cows for milk and sells her goods to a local dairy processor. Kateryna spends about an hour each day attending to the physically demanding job of milking her three cows.

Traditionally,  the responsibility for milking cows has belonged exclusively to women in rural Ukraine. Over the years, a rural woman’s hands become “twisted” from the strenuous work.

“It’s hard sometimes, but it helps me to survive,” says Kateryna.

Private households own 76 percent of the cows raised in Ukraine. About 70 percent of the raw milk these cows produce is low-quality and below EU standards. The milk is sold at very low prices because it cannot be used to make other dairy goods, but it provides a meager income nonetheless. Recent legislation has effectively banned the processing of second-grade milk altogether, taking badly needed income from farmers who cannot produce higher quality milk.

Automated milking machines raise the quality of the milk because they eliminate contact with the air or people’s hands, diminishing the chance of bacterial contamination. Unfortunately, milking machines are beyond the means of most village families that own only a few cows.

One solution is to merge farms into dairy cooperatives and share the quality-enhancing dairy equipment between them. USAID’s Agriculture Growing Rural Opportunities (AGRO) activity worked with the Women's Agricultural Service Cooperative (WAS Cooperative) to do just that. The VAK Monastyryshchenksy cooperative has around 800 members, of whom about 60 percent are women. It now has milking machines and introduces labor-saving techniques to improve the life of the cooperative’s members. USAID provided the VAK Monastyryshchenksy Cooperative with 50 automated milking machines. USAID also provided a mobile milking parlor so that farmers can milk several cows simultaneously in the pastures. Inspired by the opportunity, the cooperative co-invested and purchased an additional mobile milking parlor on its own.

With a mobile milking parlor in place, women no longer need to go to the pasture every day to milk their cows. The resulting high-quality milk eliminates the physical demands of manual milking while increasing revenues. 

Kateryna had no second thoughts about joining the cooperative when she heard about it, understanding that automatization would make her life a bit easier. “My arms will get a little rest. The milking machine is great; milking is much faster now, and the quality of the milk is much better,” said Kateryna.

Last updated: September 20, 2021

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