“With my two cows and sheep, I used to earn between 4-5,000 riyals ($16-20) by selling our milk at 1,000 riyals ($4) per container. After learning how to process milk I am now earning 10,000 riyals ($40) every day. — Ms. Taktarah Naser Saleh, Tuban District, Lahj Governorate
Ms. Taktarah Naser Saleh, a 32-year-old high school graduate and married mother of three, had no idea how much her life would change after being invited to participate in USAID Economic Recovery and Livelihoods Program (USAID ERLP) dairy processing training in July 2021. Less than two years later, she has replaced her straw hut with a new concrete home, doubled her growing customer base and profits, and contributed to her family’s livelihood.
Invited by a food processing specialist from her local rural women’s development office of the Lahj Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Ms. Saleh joined 18 other women in the food processing facility. There they participated in hands-on demonstrations on how to process milk into cheese, yogurt, labneh (a Middle Eastern favorite type of sour cream), and ghee (a type of clarified butter). Focusing on cleanliness, equipment sterilization, maintaining hygiene, and how to meet food safety standards, the women also learned how to store, label, brand, and market their dairy products.
“Milk was our only source of income with my husband carrying the milk in a container roaming the neighborhoods selling,” said Ms. Saleh. “After the training, I grew my business, revenue increased and I started saving. I bought cinder blocks, cement, and other construction materials. Today, I have a room where we live, plus a kitchen, and a bathroom.”
USAID collaborates with the Lahj women’s development office and has developed a wide range of agribusiness products and related targeted training. As a result, women milk producers are now growing small businesses that generate much-needed income for their families.