On 23 March 2022, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Surketham Dairy Cooperative Limited (SDCL), and Nepal Dairy Pvt. Ltd (NDPL) signed a tripartite agreement to promote yak dairy enterprise that can sustain the age-old yak herding culture in the highlands of Eastern Nepal.
The initiative aims to develop a viable yak-based business model to generate attractive and sustainable employment opportunities for rural youth in the Kangchenjunga Landscape of Nepal. Pema Gyamtsho, Director General, ICIMOD, Heramba B. Rajbhandary, Executive Chairman, NDPL, and Maita Bahadur Libang, Chairperson, SDCL signed the LoI.
Challenges imposed by climate change and socioeconomic drivers have reduced interest in yak herding. In 2009, the Surketham Dairy Cooperative Limited, an institution formed by the yak and cattle farmers in Panchthar district, Nepal, ventured into yak dairy processing. The cooperative, however, has not been able to succeed due to its limited capacity to link up with the markets.
Motivated by the mission to save yaks and yak farming culture from extinction and showcase their economic viability, the Kangchenjunga Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KLCDI) under ICIMOD approached NDPL for a partnership in processing, product diversification, and market linkages for yak products. This partnership is expected to deliver a successful model of yak-based enterprise to attract and engage youth in the landscape to sustain the yak herding culture.
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