This video vividly shares the story of this innovative and successful project of the Kilung Foundation.
With the local government’s nomad resettlement program, nomad families are forced to give up their animals, but they rarely have the skills to make a living in an urban setting. As a way to preserve the fabric of the nomad culture, the Kilung Foundation launched a yogurt collective.
The enterprise began in summer 2015 with seed money from the Kilung Foundation, encouraged and supported by local government officials. Eleven nomadic families joined together to create a collective with a herd of 50 yaks, milking and making yogurt daily. The yogurt is sold locally, and the proceeds support the families and workers involved. A portion of the income is also reinvested to grow the business.
A main food source for Tibetans is milk, traditionally consumed as butter, cheese, and yogurt. However, because of the recent migration into towns and villages, fresh, wholesome yogurt has become scarce, and Tibetans ironically must rely on packaged, factory-produced yogurt that’s been shipped many days from elsewhere – with additives.
The brand name of the new yogurt is Dzagyal Yangchim Yogurt meaning “Valley of the Noble Family.” In Tibetan, “noble family” means wholesomeness. The mountains in the logo design represent the three sacred mountains of Dzachuka which are loved and respected by the local people.
It was predicted that this business would have a ready market with Sershul town dwellers. Indeed, the initial yogurt easily sold out within two hours, with pre-orders being made. The yogurt also offered a local, traditional food experience to the many tourists who come to the area in the summer season.
In the second year, the collective increased the herd size of the females yaks, called ‘dri’, that are milked for the yogurt. They also set up a commercial kitchen for a more efficient and hygienic production of the yogurt in larger quantities, as well as a retail shop. The increased production and sales engaged additional families, thus providing more employment.