Wajdi’s milk collection center helps Siliana’s dairy sector ‘moooove’ forward
Wajdi is an idealist and a huge fan of his region. Despite all the challenges he faced in his life, this love for the region led him to launch one of the most important milk collection centres in Siliana.
Wajdi grew up on a farm in Siliana and has been immersed in agriculture since his childhood. He always knew that one day he would follow in his parents’ footsteps, taking over not only the family business but also a passion for the region and a key role in the agricultural community.
After graduating in animal production, Wajdi worked as an intermediary between dairy sector stakeholders and recognized the importance of identifying new market opportunities.
“Cheese is a great way for farmers to add value to their milk and to avoid large quantities of milk waste during periods of high lactation,” explains Wajdi.
Determined to learn more about how to add value to dairy products and especially about cheese production techniques, he decided to work at a cheesemaker located near Tunis to gain first hand experience.
After his return to Siliana, he felt ready to launch his own project in milk collection and cheese production. However, a difficult period lay ahead and for almost two years he faced several refusals from local administrations.
In May 2017, Wajdi contacted the Business Center of Siliana who put him in touch with a regional expert from Mashrou3i, a project implemented by UNIDO and funded by USAID, the Italian Cooperation and the HP Foundation. The Mashrou3i expert supported him in overcoming administrative hurdles, enabling him to get the necessary approvals and to realize the establishment of a laboratory according to national sanitary standards. The project also facilitated access to finance.
“Mashrou3i came at a stage in my life where I was ready to give up,” says Wajdi. “The unwavering support provided by the expert helped me to overcome all the administrative and financial challenges that were stopping me from realizing my idea.”
In September 2018, Wajdi officially launched his milk collection center, Lakhmèss, in the heart of the agricultural region of Siliana. With 7 employees, the centre is working at full capacity with a collection of 1,300 to 2,000 litres per day. Dedicated to ensuring the highest quality of milk that he distributes, Wajdi also respects all the necessary sanitary requirements.
“In addition to the direct control of the cattle, specific tests are also carried out in our laboratory as soon as the milk is collected from farmers. Our goal is above all the satisfaction of the final customer, but also of farmers and all stakeholders in the milk value chain.”
To raise awareness about his business, in November 2018 Mashrou3i also provided Wajdi with an intensive training in communication techniques to prepare him for two interviews on Radio Kef and Mosaïque FM, the most popular radio stations in the country.
Today Wajdi has large dairy farmers lining up to work with him and he is also supporting his wife, who just launched a cheese factory.
“I finally see a bright future for my company, my family and myself. I want to recruit additional employees, including an accountant and cattle technicians to ensure the smooth running of the value chain,” Wajdi says. “When we love our region, we invest in it.”