Women are at the core of Jordan’s dairy processing sector, forming the majority of its workforce. Improving the productivity, hygiene and profitability of dairy production will give women an opportunity to generate income and improve their livelihoods. The course taught rural women how to maximize the benefits of dairy production, and utilize modern techniques that reduce their drudgery, as well as their water and energy consumption.
The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in collaboration with Jordan’s National Center for Agriculture and Extension (NCARE), organized a three-day practical course on enhancing traditional dairy processing. The training, attended by 15 women and 3 men was conducted during May 21-23, 2017 at the Majediya charity association hall, in Al Majediya village some 30 kilometres south Amman. The training was led by Dr. Muhi El-Dine Hilali - a specialist in dairy production at ICARDA, and supported by other researchers including Dr. Masnat Al Hiary, and Engineers Tayseer Abu Al Amash, Omamah Al Hadidi, Lana Abu Nowar, Soha Salamah, and Malik Abu Roman from NCARE.
Training on dairy processing
The majority of the households in the village own less than 100 heads of sheep and goats, while a few own herds in excess of 500 heads. In the case of the trainees, most own less than 20 heads of sheep. However, all use manual milking as the only method to extract milk that is often directly sold to the Jabban (cheesemaker/trader). Some of the milk is also processed at home to make cheese and other by- products for home consumption.
The first day of the training was devoted to theoretical discussions on the advantages and disadvantages of using different milk processing techniques. The discussions were then followed by practical sessions where Dr Muhi demonstrated various techniques that communities could adopt to enhance the quality, and extend the shelf-life of dairy products such as ghee, white cheese, jameed, labneh, as well as skimmed cheese and labneh balls that can be conserved in olive oil for sustained periods under normal temperatures. The session also included training on:
- proper use of thermometers in controlling milk temperature for proper inoculation and incubation for yoghurt processing,
- how to install and use the fat separation machine. The fat separator capacity is 500 kg per day instead of 50 kg. The machine contains 22 dishes and key. When the milk temperature become (45° -59°), it is placed on the fat separation machine, the milk goes down and fat rises up.
The second day focused on providing practical training on the production of jameed – a hard dry cheese made from ewe or goat's milk, that is an essential ingredient to prepare mansaf – a traditional Jordanian food. Jameed production includes pasteurization to raise the temperature to (63 or 65) ° C for half an hour (slow way) or lift it to the (75) ° C for 15 seconds (faster way), milk (skimmed cream), heat the sorting milk to (85 ° C), cooling milk to (42-45 ° C), addition of prefix (Roubah), incubation (42-45 ° C), add salt, heating (55-60 ° C), packing, pressure, adding salt, kneading, formation, and drying after the milk is converted to yoghurt (it is recommended to boil the milk well until it gives good hard yoghurt. Dr. Muhi also trained the participants on how to make yogurt and butter through an interaction session which allowed involvement of the trainees in the production process.
On the second day of the training, the trainees completed making the yogurt and learned how to process it into labneh and jameed by placing it in kharetah (a big piece of cloth).
- The yogurt was prepared and put it in a big piece of cloth (Kharetah) to leave it for one day to continue making labneh and Jameed.
- The prefix (Roubah) is added to the fat, and worm it for one night, and the next day they add cold water by a third of the quantity and then put in the biting for 20 minutes, and then produced Ghee.
The practical training was continued into the third day, where the trainees were given the opportunity to process and produce different types of cheese under the close supervision of Dr Muhi.
Trainees assessment of the training provided
The women agreed that the modern milk processing methods are much easier and save time. However, some were not convinced that it resulted in cheese that tastes as good as the traditionally processed ones. They were especially appreciative of the fat separating machine which substantially reduces the amount of time it takes them if they had to use the traditional ways of boiling and mixing the milk.
The women were also motivated, as a result of the training, to organize themselves as a business unit to process and market various milk products. The second phase of this project will focus on finding funding sources to support the women to purchase the necessary equipment as well as the additional milk they will need to start a profitable business.