WHAT WE DO
SEED OF CARE Soy Food Culture Development
Humanitarian Programs for Women & Children
Soy Milk Distribution Program
Soy milk is the easiest form of soybean consumption for people that have an immediate nutrition need.
NEI has been distributing pasteurized soy milk to women and children in impoverished areas with high mortality rates. Since November 2007, NEI has opened three soy milk processing facilities at Herat, Faizabad, and Kabul. Approximately 5,000 women and children receive soy milk 3 times per week at refugee camps, orphanages, schools for the vision and hearing impaired and elementary schools in poor neighborhoods.
To produce soy milk, soybeans harvested by Afghan farmers are cleaned and washed by widows and other poor women employed by NEI. The second process involves heat treatment for food safety using a Soy Cow system, this is the standard system approved by U.S. Food & Drug Agency. NEI provides employment opportunities especially for women in need. They are trained as soy milk processing specialist. Both Rahima and Shefikhar are 7-year NEI veterans. They are soy milk processing experts and they personally distribute the milk and soy cookies to refugee camps and schools.
Village Women Empowerment
NEI offers poor village women in impoverished areas both nutritional and financial empowerment opportunities. Since 2008, NEI has trained village women regarding the health benefits of soybean and taught women how to prepare soybeans in the home. In 2014, NEI conducted a grassroots nutritional empowerment program for 6,000 village women in 20 districts in the following provinces: Badakshan, Kapisa, Laghman, Nangarhar, and Herat. After the training, soybeans and soy flour were distributed for home cooking. The women learned how to cook 14 soy dishes that are culturally appropriate and tasty to the Afghan palette.
In 2015, NEI began a financial empowerment program for village women in Daschi-Bachi, a district of Kabul. NEI ,in partnership with village leaders, selected 20 poor women; some of them were widows. They were trained on soy nutrition and home cooking of soy products. The women are assigned as soy product sales agents for door-to door sales at the grassroots level. The NEI saleswomen visit neighbors to inform them about soy and they sell soy products on a commission basis. NEI provides transportation for the delivery of the soy products. Previously, these women had to rely on begging for food and clothes on the doors of rich households. Now these women are self-sustainable and have economic opportunities to build a better future for their families.
In 2016, NEI taught 100 widows in Kabul, Kapisa and Parwan provinces to how to raise chickens and provided hens, chicken feed and materials to build chicken coops. The rural women first used these eggs for home consumption and sold excess eggs at the market.
Soy milk distribution and
soy market development
Every year more Afghan farmers are joining our soybean cultivation initiative. Farmers keep enough soybeans for their own household needs and sell the excess supply to NEI.
This excess soybean supply is increasing and the time has come for NEI to expand our soy processing factories so that this excess supply can be utilized. NEI is also developing a soy market for the Afghan general public. NEI’s soy market gives people that are not cultivating soybeans opportunities to access a high protein, affordable food sources.
Building soy processing factories:
The first full-fat soy flour factory was established in Kabul in 2007. Since then we have built 6 more factories with local partners. The factories produce full-fat and low-fat soy flour and soy oil in Jalalabad, Parwan, Kapisa, Konduz, Takhar, and Herat.
Farmers sell their supply to factories in their own provinces and in neighboring provinces as well.
NEI recently signed a contract with a reputable Afghanistan company to build the first sterilized soy milk factory in Kabul. The factory will produce 40,000 pouches of soy milk with a 10 month shelf life without refrigeration. This is important because many Afghan households lack a refrigerator. Beginning in 2016, this nutritious ready-to-drink product can be marketed throughout the country and will help populations in high mountain regions access a high protein food source.
In addition to the sterilized soy milk, NEI will establish a chicken feed factory. NEI is currently working with a chicken feed manufacturing business partner to expand and upgrade their equipment. This factory will utilize bee-jee, a by- product made during the soy milk manufacturing process. The bee-jee is a high protein and nutritious source of chicken feed. NEI will establish home poultry businesses run by village women in 500 villages that have high malnutrition rates.
Soy Market Development
Soybeans are becoming more common in rural areas across 22 provinces. However, many other people that live in non-soybean production areas, including major cities, are still not fully aware of the health benefits of soybean and soy products.
NEI has an active marketing campaign for NEI’s soybean products. We have created a soy nutrition awareness campaign among the government ministries, parliament, university, commercial organizations, naan bakers associations, and with the general public. Since 2013, NEI has conducted soy nutrition seminars for more than 5,000 opinion leaders in Kabul, Herat, and Jalalabad. In order to bring soy nutrition awareness to the general public, we have a marketing campaign on billboards and commercials on local radio and national TV networks. Recent TV commercials aired by 4 major TV networks in Afghanistan received favorable remarks by viewers for its innovative concept. Please see the video below:
Naan Bakeries as Main Soy Flour Market
The most important market for soy products is the naan bakers union of Kabul City which has 1,700 bakeries. Naan bread is typically made out of wheat flour and is an Afghan staple; people consume naan 3 times daily. Since 2005, NEI has been promoting soy naan made with 10% soy flour and 90% wheat flour blend. By adding 10% soy flour to the naan, absorbable protein is increased by more than 80%. The soy flour blend naan helps people reach their daily protein requirement.
In addition to the nutritional benefits of soybean, the Afghan consumers enjoy soy flour naan taste. It remains fresh overnight, not turning stale and hard. Due to the soy oil and protein’s water holding capacity, NEI’s naan stays edible for a longer period of time. Soy naan is very popular not only in rural areas but also among the people of Kabul, especially during Ramadan when regular naan usually hardens by the time everyone has their midnight meal. The nutritional value and extended shelf life of soy naan give it an advantage over 100% wheat flour naan.
NEI supports over 60 naan bakeries in Kabul throughout 17 city districts. An increase in soybean production will supply more bakeries. We hope to supply most of the 1,700 naan bakeries throughout Kabul.
Other Soy Products Sold Now
Besides the full-fat soy flour products, NEI is marketing soy cookies, roasted soy nuts, and tofu at soy market centers, and through on-line orders and sales agencies.
Soy Product Sales