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GACKO: COUNTRY WOMEN PRODUCE TRADITIONALLY GACKO CHEESE SPREAD (KAJMAK), AND BY BRANDING IT THEY EMPOWER THEMSELVES AND THEIR LOCAL COMMUNITY

Gacko municipality is one of the 13 partner local government units included in the Regional Program on Local Democracyin the Western Balkans 2 (ReLOaD2), funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). One of the projects run by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and supported through this initiative, is the Project of the Association of Gacko Cheese Spread (kajmak) Producers.

The aim of the project entitled Preparing Producers for the Gacko Kajmak Branding Process is to protect geographical origin of Gacko kajmak and to have it branded as a product. Gacko kajmak is typical for this region because of the raw materials it is made of, as well as the method of its production. The objective of the Association is to have their product branded and recognized locally and regionally. In order to achieve that, specific procedures need to be followed. The first one is to establish production traceability system, which would ensure product branding by competent institutions.

Kajmak branding, according to the Association’s assessment, would lead to a wider recognizability, and in turn, to a higher demand and a better price. The aspiration of the Association members is to improve their material situation by producing kajmak, in particular in rural areas. Consequently, the production must be standardized, while at the same time preserving the tradition and the recognizable kajmak taste made in the region.

Ms. Ana Crnogorac, the Project Coordinatior deputy for Gacko municipality says that kajmak production and branding is one of the strategic areas recognized as such by the municipality. Geographical Trademark for Kajmak Production is highlighted as one of the key strategic projects in the 2022-2028 Development Strategy for Gacko Municipality.

The implementation of this project is the first step towards the branding of Gacko kajmak. It is a very important issue for both – the local community and the region. Agriculture and farming are the main sources of income in Gacko region. There are many farms that produce kajmak, so it is very important to offer education to kajmak producers in order to prepare them for future work, says Ana.

The target group of the project are primarily women – Association members who are formally unemployed and make their living exclusively producing kajmak, and who live at the outskirts of Gacko municipality.

Dragana Milovic, the president of the Association of Gacko Kajmak Producers, points out that this is one of the few projects that offer support to women in the country, by providing free education on hygiene and milk quality, proper cattle feeding and keeping records on livestock fodder and milk quantities. In addition, participants received a training on the method of establishing production traceability system in the process of Gacko kajmak production and on the requirements for branding.

We live in the country and we have always produced our kajmak in a traditional way, using only our domestic ingredients. In this project we learned why proper cattle feeding and health care are important, as it all affects the final product.

Milenija Susic, Association member and a Project beneficiary, kajmak producer for over 10 years

The main sites for kajmak sale are private farms and market-places, and fairs of autochthonous food stuff, run mostly by women.

Today, on the International Day of Rural Women, we would like to draw attention to the importance of the role that women and girls have in our society. In addition to running their households, they provide significant labor force to agricultural production in rural areas. The Association’s project activities are a major step towards empowering of women in Gacko municipality, helping to recognize the importance of their contribution.

Resource: Gacko: Country women produce traditionally Gacko cheese spread (kajmak), and by branding it they empower themselves and their local community | United Nations Development Programme (undp.org)

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