The southern region of Georgia is a patchwork of tiny verdant farms owned by thousands of families trying to survive off the land. The former Soviet collective farms were broken up into some one million small, privately owned parcels rarely exceeding two acres. The lush grazing pastures have the potential to produce five times their current output of milk, but many of the farmers lack the knowledge, equipment and guidance needed to produce more than subsistence levels of milk and homemade dairy products.
IOCC, working in partnership with the Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church and in cooperation with agricultural expert, Dr. James Hanson of the University of Maryland, has brought hope for new prosperity to the region with the construction of a modern demonstration dairy barn. The structure includes milking stalls for 50 cows, a maternity area for calf delivery, and storage space for new, modern milking equipment. The airy, hoop-style design delivers improved lighting and ventilation, both important in keeping cows healthy and boosting milk production.
The site was chosen for its close proximity to the Patriarchate cheese plant, which will be supplied with milk from the farm, and its central location for farmers and agricultural students who will visit the model dairy to learn about breeding, feeding, housing, and modern practices in the production of milk. The IOCC project will equip the farmers with the technical know-how and the tools needed to help them produce a steady flow of milk and income for their families.