b'good life VALUABLE INSIGHTThe Powerful Link Between Farmers and a Better Future PHOTOS BY JOE TOBIASONBy Alyssa Cogan, World Ark managing editorMina Ale distributes ice cream produced by her cooperative in Kopawa, Nepal.SEVERAL YEARS AGO, A GROUP OF WOMEN IN SOUTHWESTERN NEPAL HAD AN IDEA: Having joined forces to form a women-led agriculturalThe Value Chain, Explained cooperative, the group would now create a collectionA value chain is the entire sequence of activities center for milk produced by the areas dairy farmers.performed to create and deliver a product or service, With support from Heifer Nepal, the business in which value is added at each phase of the process.Bihani Dairy Cooperativewould reduce waste andAn agricultural value chain refers specifically to offer farmers a fair price and chance to earn aagricultural products, like milk, and is defined by the living wage.Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations This opportunity generated others for the women,as the set of actors and actions that bring a basic farmed such as using the milk to produce and sell more diverseproduct from field to final consumption. dairy products, like yogurt, ghee and kulfi, or ice creamThe value chain for the dairy sector in rural Nepal,adding potential for profit every step of the way.for example, starts at the farm level and covers all the Since it was just starting, we named the dairyequipment and activities that move milk from the Bihani, said Tulsi Thapa, the cooperative chairperson,field to the consumer, including production of cattle referring to the Nepali word for morning.feed, production and collection of milk, transportation Its also a sign of a good thing beginning.and cold storage, processing, packaging, distribution, Today, Bihani Dairys future is bright. Farmers havemarketing and sale to the end customer.a buyer for their milk and the women earn income theyThroughout the value chain, the product improves invest back into the community and business. Theyvein quality or convenience or is processed into other adapted to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemicdesirable products, becoming more valuable at and even plan to continue diversifying their productsevery stage.and market them across the region. If a farmer sells raw milk to a processor, for instance, Heifers mission to help vulnerable people earn athey are not going to earn very much money for it, sustainable income and provide nutritious food for theirsaid Mike Heald, Heifers vice president of investment families is accomplished, in large part, by supportingprograms, who leads investment initiatives that enable farmer-centered agricultural value chains, like the dairyfarmers to participate more equitably in the value chains chain leveraged by the women of Bihani.they supply. But what is a value chain, exactly? And why is itBut if they are equipped with infrastructure and so important?equipment to sell it to a consumer as yogurt, they get 8| SUMMER2022'