Honey and cheese cooperatives created in Cahul district in Moldova, with ILO’s support

In Cahul district, Moldova, the public-private Local Employment Partnership (LEP) funded by the ILO and local stakeholders, supported the creation of two cooperatives processing honey and cheese.

News | 27 October 2020
The LEP supported the formalization of nine informal rural beekeeper households, with 35 contributing family workers, through the creation of the “Honey from Cahul” cooperative. The beneficiaries received initial training to strengthen their technical skills in apiary management, hive products and standard operating procedures, quality standards in apiculture, and legal requirements for obtaining sanitation and veterinary certificates. The technical training was followed by entrepreneurial and business advisory services, and legal support toward formalization undertaken in collaboration with Coopermondo and three international beekeeping experts.

Participants received training on Think.Coop and Start.Coop, which allowed them to: come up with the cooperative’s business idea; conduct a market assessment; and establish the organizational set-up plan for the cooperative. In order to assess the quality of the honey produced, seven honey samples provided by the local beekeepers were sent to Italy for laboratory tests. The results revealed that the honey produced in Cahul is ecologically pure and natural, and in accordance with European standards. Specialized equipment for honey homogenization and a centrifuge, including a packaging line, were purchased and installed by the project for use by the members of the “Honey from Cahul” cooperative.  

Based on the example of the “Honey from Cahul” beekeepers cooperative, sheep breeders from Cahul district showed an interest in forming an association and requested support to set up a sheep breeders cooperative. Figures from 2018 estimate that more than 102 households in Cahul district were engaged in sheep and goat breeding, with more than 74,000 animals. However, small- and medium-scale sheep breeders in Cahul district often lack technical and business skills to access potential markets and increase the volume of their production. 
Bearing in mind the good intermediate results of the Cahul beekeepers cooperative and the potential of the sector, LEP supported the establishment of a cheese production cooperative in January 2020, benefiting five rural households with 17 contributing family workers. The establishment of the cooperative made possible a transition toward formality among sheep breeders’ business operations in Cahul district and the creation of seven new jobs.

LEP facilitated the provision of advanced technical training and knowledge in business development, access to modern equipment for the production and packaging of hard cheese, and information on standard operating procedures and sector-specific quality requirements. Moreover, the project conducted training using the ILO tools Think.Coop and Start.Coop, which guided participants in: the identification of the core members of the cooperative; the development of the cooperative’s business idea and the feasibility assessment; and the market analysis. The training was well-received by the participants with a great deal of interest in cooperative principles and promotion in other markets.