Iraqi women soon will have a dairy processing plant to provide them with employment and a way to support their families. The dairy facility is part of the Fallujah Widow's Dairy Development Program, a multi-phased program begun in October 2008 to create a sustainable source of income for dairy farmers in Fallujah, Iraq. One of the program's sponsors is Land O'Lakes International Development Division, North Arden Hills, Minn.

Phase Three of the program is to build a modular milk-collection plant that will provide training and employment opportunities for Fallujah widows, as well as introduce raw and value-added dairy products such as pasteurized milk in bulk, sachets and yogurt in different size packaging. Phase Three is expected to be completed in first quarter 2010.

"The dairy plant will have the capacity to collect and process 1,000 liters [264 gal] of milk per day," said Zaheer Baber, Land O'Lakes regional director for Asia, Middle East, Latin America and Eastern Europe. "The plant will be manufactured in India, assembled in Iraq, and will supply products to local restaurants and other institutions."

Phase One of the program began in the fall of 2008, when a report issued to the U.S. Marines outlined the current state of the dairy sector in Fallujah, Saqlawiyah and Ramadi subdistricts of eastern Anbar province. It also assessed the feasibility of establishing a dairy processing plant for the Fallujah Women's Cultural Center. In late 2008, the Marines bought 50 local mixed-breed cows, 44 of which were pregnant, and distributed them to widows and impoverished women throughout the region.

Under Phase Two, begun in February 2009, Land O'Lakes dairy experts provided training in animal husbandry and milk production and collection to the women who received the cows. Improving the care of the cows, the quality and quantity of the milk produced, and the collection system has increased the incomes of the women, which also has improved the economic situation of their families.

Prosperity Worldwide, a 501(c)(3) organization closely affiliated with Land O'Lakes International Development Division, accepts donations for the purchase of more cows for the Iraqi women. Go to www.prosperityworldwide.org for more details.

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