Bogra

Last week I was in Bogra which is in the North of Bangladesh, about 190 km from Dhaka. It usually takes about 5 hours but we left at 6am and the trafic was so heavy that we didn’t arrive until 2pm. I am so glad I sleep like a baby in the car (it helps to pass time and to avoid freaking out every 20 seconds because of the crazy way people drive here!)

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Bogra is where Grameen Danone’s factory is located. It is also where the project started with the Shokti Ladies selling yogurts door to door in remote villages.

The purpose of the visit was to meet the local team and also learn about the production process. I’ve been hearing about this place for years so you can imagine how excited I was.

Luckily Nicoline came with me. She is Dutch but has been working for Danone in the UK. She’s in Dhaka for 2 weeks to discover the business and meet the team and then she will be coaching/mentoring the marketing director on a regular basis from London. (Mentoring/Coaching programs are another way for Danone employees to contribute to Danone Communities Social Businesses.)

Anyway, we woke up early on the next day for our first visit : milk collection.
This is a place where farmers bring their milk every morning and evening and where the milk’s density and temperature is checked.
(Farmers usually have 3 to 8 cows each and a local cow gives 3 to 4 liters a day. )

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Twice a day the milk collected is brought to a chilling center.
(Farmers close to the chilling center can bring their milk to this place directly). Here the milk is tested again and if it passes quality control it is poured into a big tank and chilled to about 2-4 degrees celcius.

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From here the milk is taken to the factory and made into yogurts (plain – vanilla – mango – strawberry). There is one production line.

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After a 48 hours quarantine wait, the yogurts are either sent to the Warehouse near Dhaka (by a refrigerated truck) or distributed around Bogra.

In the small rural village, Shokti ladies carry and sale the yogurts in an ice chest. They sell about 50 to 100 yogurts a day but do not work everyday as they sometimes need to help in the fields or with other labor.

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We walked around with one woman for awhile. Little by little it seemed like the whole village was gathering and walking with us.

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It was such an amazing experience to walk through these tiny villages, getting a peak at what their everyday must be like. Smiling back at the children and giggling with the women although it was hard to communicate. (But for example, the fact that our ears were pierced but that Nicoline wasn’t wearing earnings made them crack up.)

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These areas are definitely poor but everyone seemed so happy and loving and peaceful. In that moment I envied the simplicity of their lives… (And I am not implying that their life is easy at all!)

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It was a lovely day 🙂

XOXO

C.

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11 thoughts on “Bogra

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  1. In future if you want to change jobs, you could be a photo journalist. Amazing photos, telling us a story.

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  2. What an interesting blog…so informative…love the photos…you take great photos…just like your mom… you captured the moment…I understand what you are saying about their life style…and I agree… also they look so happy and content.,,and so clean….they may be poor but they are clean..nice hair cuts etc. How much do they have to pay for one yogurt? What an education and opportunity you have for these 3 months. Thanks for sharing with us…is your company related to the Dannon yogurt in the USA?

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  3. You sound like your mama- sleeping in a car so easily bet she gets a laugh out of that !!! Thanks for this post explaining & showing us this fascinating process!

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      1. Qd le lait est testé une première fois (en présence des producteurs), s’il ne passe pas (pour cause de présence d’alcool, de sucre..) il leur ai rendu. Mais c’est très rare que ça arrive car ils savent que le lait est vérifié.
        Qd il est testé une deuxième fois, au centre de refroidissement, c’est de notre responsabilité et s’il ne passe pas on doit le jeter (heureusement ici ça reste des petites quantités).

        Le lait est toujours acheté aux producteurs même si on en a pas besoin. Le prix varie de qq centimes en fonction de la densité du lait (ce qui est plus stable que le taux de protéines). Et ils ont une prime de “fidélité” aussi.

        La société leurs met à disposition un vétérinaire pour les aider à comprendre l’impact de l’alimentation des vaches sur la qualité du lait et pour les accompagner au fil du temps.

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  4. thanks for sharing your amazing experience chelsea….the village and people look lovely …what an amazing job you have seeing the journey of a product you sell in france!

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    1. Hi Andrea,
      Yes such an amazing experience.
      The products made in Bogra are only sold in Bangladesh though as they are made specifically by the Grameen Danone joint venture to help reduce malnutrition in the country. They are very fresh and have a short shelf life (the have to be eaten within 25 days after production).

      Yogurts sold in France are mainly produced in one of Danone’s 5 French factories. Just like the Dannon yogurt is made and sold in the US. The production in those countries, done at a much bigger scale, is also fascinating.

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  5. The people you show, even the cows, are beautiful…and your photographs have caught that beauty (of the faces, young and old, human and bovine, and the clothing). Merci, Chelsea!

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