Meirzhan Myrzaliyev, who is graduating from the MIDP program in May, has been conducting independent research on the impact of technology on the development of the dairy sector in Kazakhstan. Milk and dairy products are the most commonly consumed food in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is among the top three countries in the world based on milk consumption.
The purpose of his research is to assess existing technologies in an effort to improve the productivity of the dairy sector. His thesis also provides an understanding of the sustainability of farming systems and technology, particularly in the context of future demand for food and other agricultural products.
Myrzaliyev chose to examine three case studies. The first is the White Revolution in India, a dairy development program that made India one of the world’s largest milk producers. The revolution was spurred by Amul, a dairy cooperative that grew into India’s largest food brand.
The second is U.S. based yogurt company Chobani, and the third is North Carolina State University’s Dairy Education Unit. Through the study of these cases, Meirzhan hopes to introduce best practices to the dairy industry of Kazakhstan, such as applying the Amul model in rural areas of Kazakhstan, the Chobani business model to large-scale dairy businesses, and N.C. State University’s education model in the country’s agricultural universities.
He recently visited N.C. State’s on-campus dairy plant, where he met with Carl Hollifield, associate director of the Dairy and Food Education Center. The campus plant produces over 10,000 gallons of raw milk per week, which is then processed into milk and ice cream sold to consumers. The university also has its own dairy farm, which consists of 175 animals, including Holstein and Jersey breeds.
Myrzaliyev will return to Kazakhstan following graduation and hopes to share what he has learned through his time at Duke as well through his independent research. He was especially impressed by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension model, which links farmers with cutting-edge agricultural research from state universities. He believes that Kazakhstan’s education system should adopt a similar model where education, science and production methods are widely shared to benefit the agricultural sector.