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
More farmers are joining NEIs soybean cultivation program each year. NEI encourages these farmers to reserve enough soybeans to feed their families and then sell the excess to the local market to earn an income. Over time, the increased number of famers, plus increased production efficiencies, have resulted in a larger soybean supply.
Although cooked soybeans are one of the most nutritious ways to consume soybeans, many consumers are interested in trying other soy-based foods. To address this demand, NEI has partnered with local business partners to establish soy processing factories throughout Afghanistan.
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 roasted full-fat soyflour in Jalalabad, Parwan, Kapisa, Konduz, Takhar, and Herat.
Additionally, 3 factories in Kapisa, Balkh and Herat can produce low fat soy flour, soy oil and texturized soy protein (TSP).
Farmers sell their supply to factories in their own provinces and in neighboring provinces as well.
State of the Art Soy Milk Factory:
NEI signed a contract with a reputable Afghanistan company and recently built the first sterilized soy milk factory in Kabul. The factory will produce 40,000 pouches of soy milk daily with a 10 month shelf life without refrigeration. This is important because many Afghan households lack a refrigerator. Beginning in 2018, 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.
Chicken Feed Production:
Poultry raising, ranging from small home businesses to large commercial operations, is popular throughout Afghanistan. Currently, the majority of chicken feed – is imported from Pakistan and Iran and of inconsistent quality. However, research shows that Afghan poultry farmers would prefer to purchase an affordable, high quality chicken feed that is produced locally.
Beejee is a by-product made during the soy milk manufacturing process, often discarded as waste. However, beejee is protein-rich, making it a nutritious ingredient in chicken feed. NEI has identified several chicken feed producers who are interested in purchasing this beejee to add to their chicken feed products. Various feed types will be produced with this beejee including both pellet and mash forms appropriate for broilers, layers and starters.
Soy Market Development
Soybeans remain a relatively new crop in Afghanistan, only commercially introduced in 2006. In rural communities where soybeans are being cultivated, local villagers have adopted soybeans and are using them in traditional Afghan recipes. However urban residents living in major cities far from the soybean fields are less familiar.
NEI has actively promoted the health benefits and home usage of soybeans since 2012. This soy nutrition awareness campaign has targeted government ministries, the institutional market, commercial businesses, universities, hospitals, naan bakeries and the general public. Since 2013, NEI has conducted soy nutrition and home usage seminars with over 5,000 opinion leaders from the health, education, media, and women empowerment sectors across Kabul, Herat and Jalalabad.
Additionally, NEI advertises its soy nutrition message on national television and radio and also purchases outdoor billboards in high traffic metro areas. This advertising features NEI’s many soy-based foods and wells as its new soy milk. This advertising campaign has been well received by consumers who are now asking for soy foods at their local stores.
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
Nann Bakeries Offer New Soy Nann:
Traditional wheat naan bread is a staple served at every Afghan meal. Although filing, wheat naan is not very nutritious. Since 2005, NEI has been promoting soy naan, in which 10% of the wheat flour is replaced with soy flour. Adding only 10% soy flour to the naan recipe increases the absorbable protein by more than 80%. As a result, consuming three soy naan per day enables a person to meet his/her daily protein requirement.
Naan bakeries in Kabul and other large cities are purchasing soy flour from NEI and its partner soy processing factories to make nutritious soy naan. In addition to the nutritional benefits of soy naan, Afghan consumers like its taste. Soy naan has an extended shelf life versus wheat naan. It stays softer and fresher longer than wheat naan, a significant advantage during Ramadan when wheat naan often becomes stale and hard before being served at the midnight meal.
Today, NEI supplies 150 of Kabul’s 1,700 naan bakeries with soy flour to make popular soy naan. As soybean production increases, resulting in a larger supply of soy flour, NEI expects more bakers to begin offering soy naan to their customers.