Project Update – December 18th, 2008
I have good news for all the generous donors who have been waiting patiently for an update. After a long wait which caused our project to slow down, we have received approval from the State government of Orissa to serve the midday meals to the students in the government-run schools. Five new VitaGoat systems will be installed in rural Orissa in late December or early January, and over 5,000 primary school students will then be receiving the micro-nutrient-enriched soymilk. Our use of the micro-nutrient mix Budhi-Shakti will ramp up sharply so we need your donations more than ever. We will be using about 1.5 kg of the micro-nutrients every day or about 30 kg per month. The government approval clears the way for at least 15,000 students to receive the soymilk and micro-nutrients by June of next year when the project will be fully implemented. When fully implemented, we will be using about 4 kg of micro-nutrients per day or 80 kg per month, which costs about $800 per month.
Reports continue to be received regularly from the local implementing partner BISWA, both for production statistics and costs/revenues, as well as the Health Data study that is being conducted as part of the project. The 4 VitaGoats currently running are operating at a break-even level and will make a profit when they begin serving the soymilk to the larger group of beneficiaries. The initial results of the comparative health study data are very encouraging - they show a noticeable improvement in the physical development of those children receiving the soymilk compared to the control group. These micronutrients and the soymilk really work! For more details please see the attached report which highlights the positive development of a few of the children in the study. Please also see some of the new pictures that I have posted from my last trip to Orissa in October.
After the next 5 VitaGoats are installed in January, 6 are scheduled to be installed in March and another 6 in May or June – look for our next update in February – and thanks for your generous support. If you have any questions, e-mail me at email@example.com - Hart Jansson, Project Team Leader.
Project Update – March 9, 2008
My apologies to all the generous GG donors who have been waiting very patiently for an update. Three new VitaGoats were installed in November in rural Orissa, near Sambalpur, as indicated by the new pictures. There are now 638 primary school students receiving the bread-and-soymilk micro-nutrient-fortified midday meal. There are 8 women working part-time to operate the four VitaGoats. Reports are being received regularly from the local implementing partner BISWA, both for production statistics and costs/revenues, as well as the Health Data study that is being conducted as part of the project. In addition to earning revenue from the government-funded midday-meal program, the women’s Self-Help Groups (SHGs) that are operating the VitaGoats are also selling the fibrous soybean residue (known as okara) to local dairy farmers – the still protein-rich residue has been shown to substantially increase the milk output when used as feed. They are also making tofu (by adding a coagulant to the hot soymilk immediately after it is produced) and selling that for wedding parties and other special occasions. Selling tofu is very profitable; its dairy equivalent – paneer, sells for about Rs 140 / kg, the tofu can be sold for about Rs 80 / kg.
All the children who are receiving the soymilk received their de-worming medicine (Albendozole), in late October. The micronutrient mix, Budhi-Shakti, is added to the soymilk daily. We are eager to see the results of the comparative study and expect a noticeable improvement in the physical development of those children receiving the soymilk compared to the control group. One of the VitaGoats was installed in a particularly remote village in the jungle, Bolaranga, where they claimed never to have seen a foreigner. Whether or not that was true, I was certainly viewed as a respected oddity on my visit. One of their typical worries is wild elephants coming through their village at night looking for food. The children took very readily to the soymilk; their first taste resulted in all the children asking for seconds or thirds. The schools these children attend are mud-walled structures with a thatch roof, mud floor and no chairs or tables. Typically the only furniture in such schools is a chair for the teacher and a blackboard. Poverty and malnutrition were evident in the stunting of many of the residents and signs of vitamin deficiencies such as goiter were common. The SHGs in these villages were very eager to receive the VitaGoat machines and were very conscientious in learning to operate the machine and in being hygienic in operating the machine and handling the soymilk.
The next VitaGoats are scheduled to be installed in May or June – look for our next update in a few months – and thanks for your generous support. If you have any questions, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org - Hart Jansson, Project Team Leader.
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