Army launches yogurt project in North Korea

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YOGURT CARTONS WILL bear the Salvation Army shield.

In an historic breakthrough, The Salvation Army and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) are working together to improve the nutrition of a rural community in the DPRK’s South Hwanghae Province (Hwanghae-namdo). The Salvation Army is to provide equipment and training to establish a yogurt processing and packaging plant there—the first of its kind in the country.

Because of recent food shortages, the government has been encouraging families and community groups to breed small farmyard animals. In the community of Gyenam, Sinwon District, alone, there are now 1,000 goats. As their number increases so does the production of milk and dairy products but, without additional modern processing plants, much of the milk spoils before it can be processed or consumed.

The government of the DPRK has therefore identified the need for modern yogurt packaging equipment in order to increase the production of this popular food beyond what can be consumed immediately. It has chosen to work in partnership with The Salvation Army to develop a packaging facility in this community.

The role of The Salvation Army is to provide the packaging equipment, ship it to the community of Gyenam, install it, and train local technicians to use and maintain the machinery. The Swiss manufacturer states that it should work for a number of years without needing significant repairs or replacement parts. No similar equipment is found in the DPRK, however, so the Army will also supply spare parts for it, as well as the plastic containers and paper lids used in the packaging process.

Initially it will ship one million yogurt cups pre-printed with a Salvation Army logo together with lids made of paper so as to minimize environmental concerns when they are discarded. This pilot project will be managed by the Switzerland, Austria and Hungary Territory, which will provide the initial resources to purchase and ship the equipment, with the support of AusAID funding secured through The Salvation Army’s Australian territories. It is expected that this project will soon become self-supporting as the market for packaged yoghurt grows.

The Salvation Army recognizes the fortitude and resourcefulness of communities in the DPRK, and the importance of self-sufficiency. This pilot project will give The Salvation Army an opportunity to use its expertise in community capacity development to provide practical assistance to the people of Gyenam, in cooperation with the Government of the DPRK, and at the same time offer them an example of an integrated Christian response to human needs.

—from a SA International News Release


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