Penning a new chapter in the history of Armenian cheesemaking

by Nane Vardanyan

Time, patience, practice, money, and quarts of freshly-produced nutritious whole milk are invested in an emerging large-scale dairy project in the Lori region.

Our new CheeseUp initiative, implemented jointly with the Armenian Missionary Association of Armenia (AMAA), is coming to upgrade dairy production in six villages of Lori (Debet, Dsegh, Chkalov, Dzoragyugh, Vahagni, and Yeghegnut), impacting over 250 families and creating over 70 job opportunities locally.

By targeting every phase of cheesemaking, from crop cultivation and cattle insemination to providing training and the necessary equipment to villagers, we aim to empower rural dwellers as farmers and entrepreneurs.

For non-experts, cows may seem very similar to each other, but the research of CheeseUp showed that different breeds of cows are like chalk and cheese. While the Brown Caucasian breed can produce 1500–2000 quarts of milk per year, the lactation of breeds like Holstein and Jersey is 5000–9000 quarts annually.

As milk is the main ingredient of cheese, its production is the first blow of CheeseUp.

First, more than 100 beneficiaries will be engaged in land cultivation and sowing crops like corn, alfalfa, and sainfoin for cattle feed. In fall 2021, over 40 households were provided with winter seed and are engaged in the sowing process. To cultivate age-old abandoned lands, we’ll also establish a cooperative to regulate the purchase and provision of necessary agricultural equipment.

Second, we’ll choose farmers owning over three cows and are interested in inseminating them with breeds like Holstein, Jersey, Brown Swiss, and Fleckvieh. Insemination will allow producing better quality and increased amounts of milk in the coming years.

Simultaneously, our experts will develop business plans for two existing cheese productions in Dsegh and Dzoragyugh villages and work with dairy workers to train in parmesan, gouda, and herb cheese making.

As soon as our dream products are ready, we invite you to Lori to taste freshly-baked traditional Armenian bread with flavorful cheese made in rural Armenia.

Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) is a non-profit organization that employs community-led approaches aimed at improving the quality of life in rural Armenia.