A farmer from a former Soviet republic plans to build his nation's first on-farm cheese plant producing mixed goat and cow's milk cheeses after spending two weeks learning from Wisconsin's top dairy industry leaders.
The Babcock Institute for International Dairy Research and Development at the University of Wisconsin recently hosted three Cochran Fellows from Turkmenistan for a two-week training program that included a combination of lectures, hands-on workshops and farm visits led by UW specialists and extension agents. Studies focused on animal health, nutrition, livestock reproduction and breeding techniques.
A relatively young country, the Republic of Turkmenistan was born in 1991 after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Bordered by Afghanistan and Iran to the south, Uzbekistan to the north and the Caspian Sea to the west, most of the country is covered by the Black Sand Desert. Of the country's agricultural land, about half is planted with cotton.
In an effort to diversify the country's agricultural economy, the Cochran Fellowship Program, which provides training opportunities for emerging market countries, sent three participants from Turkmenistan to Wisconsin to learn more about the state's thriving dairy industry. The Cochran program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, strives to assist countries in developing and improving agricultural systems, as well as strengthening trade links. The Babcock Institute has previously hosted Cochran Fellows from India, Latin America and Northern Africa.
The Turkmenistan participants included: Sylap Meredov, head of the Maldar Society, a large state farmer organization, and an animal husbandry scientist responsible for the care of almost 45,000 animals, including sheep, camels and cows; Dr. Nurmuhammet Baygeldiyev, the chief specialist for the Central Veterinary Union who works with the National Institute of Livestock to breed sheep for longer and stronger wool; and Kakajan Gylyjov, a livestock breeder who owns a farm with cattle, goats and sheep in Turkmenistan.
The two-week program included day trips to ABS Global, Accelerated Genetics, U.S. Dairy Forage Research Farm, Arlington Research Station, as well as several local dairy farms. Dave Northey, of the UW-Madison Department of Animal Science, led a three-day artificial insemination training session. At the conclusion of the two-week program, each participant worked with the Babcock Institute to create an action plan to implement upon their return to Turkmenistan.
"During the two weeks of training in the U.S., I got a lot of new and useful information about the dairy industry and milk production, as well as cheese production of goat and sheep milk," said Gylyjov, a Turkmenistan livestock breeder. In fact, Gylyjov now plans to build the first farmstead cheese plant in Turkmenistan, producing mixed goat and cow's milk cheese.
Meredov, the head of a large state farmer organization, says he intends to use the information he learned in Wisconsin to form a society of 55 farmers in his area to conduct trainings on improved methods in harvesting, preserving forage, and making silage. Baygeldiyev, of the Central Veterinary Union, plans to conduct trainings throughout Turkmenistan's five regions.
The successful two-week training program with Turkmenistan is the most recent in a long history of effective educational sessions implemented by the Babcock Institute. Since its start in 1996, the institute has conducted 129 courses for more than 5,600 participants from 71 countries. Babcock works closely with university faculty in nine departments and 11 research centers in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, including the Departments of Animal Science, Dairy Science, Food Science and Agronomy. This collaborative environment provides an ideal setting to host high-quality, comprehensive training programs for individuals and groups from around the world.
For additional information on the Babcock Institute for International Dairy Research and Development, visit: babcock.cals.wisc.edu or call 608-265-4169.