The Sweden/USAID FARMA II project assisted the Goat Farm Alpino in expanding production of soaps by 25 percent and introducing an EU compliant packaging for their products.
“I always wanted to be a farmer, work with animals, and make a living that way,” says Vladan Galijašević, who runs the Goat Farm Alpino in Pale, just outside Sarajevo. “My wife and I first thought of a chicken farm, and then of different cattle, and finally settled on the idea of goats as the most generous and giving animals there are.”
The Galijašević family embarked on a mission to set up a goat farm seven years ago. They now have 130 goats and produce 500 kilograms of goat cheese a month, as well as some milk, whey, and yogurt. Their second major product, and soon to be the primary one, are goat milk soaps. "We can make three times more money by producing and selling soaps," says Vladan, and the Sweden/USAID FARMA II project is helping them do that.
From a shop owner to a farmer
Vladan originally ran a shop in Jahorina Mountain. His family has three grocery stores that work during the skiing season. As sales people, none of his family members ever engaged in farming, but that was not his way. “Luckily for me, my wife and I shared the same vision. In 2013 we bought the land and started clearing it out, making terraces in the rock, and creating a natural environment for the Alpino goats, which produce the most milk," explains Vladan.
In 2014 they built the first barn, silo, and a milk and cheese processing cottage. The Alpino farm now has eight wooden structures, and each has a specific purpose, including cheese smoking, and soap aging.
"We made our first cheese already in 2014, and in 2016 we wanted to produce something else. The idea of soaps came up, and we did not regret it,” says Vladan. In 2018 they joined the DM’s “Startujmo zajedno” (Let’s start together) initiative. It enabled them to sell their soaps in the DM retail stores throughout BiH and as of late 2019 also in Croatia.
Stimulus to grow
Gaining access to the EU market through the DM retail chain meant that the Goat Farm Alpino had to increase the production of soaps and meet the EU standards. The Sweden/USAID FARMA II project provided stimulus in a form of a grant and helped Alpino purchase a flow pack machine that now wraps soaps in a bio-degradable paper, which is an EU requirement.
Alpino’s old packaging machine wrapped soaps into a plastic foil and had the capacity of 240,000 soaps a year. This was not enough in terms of the needed quantity or good enough in terms of the required quality. The new machine can easily package more than half a million soaps a year, and Aplino hopes to do just that.
“Our production is interchangeable. Goat milk is the basis for all our products, but we can always decide to make more cheese or more soap. When the pandemic started, our cheese sales decreased, but the soap sales increased, and we adjusted," says Vladan.
Responding to the demands of their current markets, they increased their production of soaps by 25 percent, to 300,000 pieces. With the new packaging machine in place, Alpino is looking to conquer one more market in the region, Slovenia or Serbia, most likely.
"We want to expand to one more market. That would enable us to increase production potentially to 500,000 soaps a year,” says Vladan and explains that they now produce the basic goat milk soap and two other varieties with honey and cinnamon. But in addition to increasing the quantity, they also want to introduce new soap varieties, including soaps with chamomile and beech tree ashes and the first goat milk soap for babies with marigold.
While this would complete their plans for the production of soaps, the last link in the Alpino’s production chain that would lead to a zero-waste production, is the production of flower fertilizer for flowers, using the goats’ manure. “Making specialized fertilizer would turn us into a zero-waste production company, and that would complete our business desires and ambitions. I am really looking forward to also doing that," concludes Vladan.