After two decades battling the elements and outdated husbandry methods of nomadic camel herders in Mauritania, Nancy M. Abeiderrahmane retired in 2008 as head of the milk-pasteurizing dairy, Tiviski, which she founded in 1989 in Nouakchott, Mauritania’s capital.
The British-born (1947) engineer, educated in Spain, handed over the reins to her son-in-law and, after a short break, is now acting as a consultant and chronicling her experiences in her adopted country.
The milk-processing plant has succeeded beyond Abeiderrahmane’s wildest expectations. It is self-sustaining and profitable. Significantly, about 1,000 suppliers are providing camel, cow and goat milk to Tiviski, spreading revenue to an estimated 3,000 families.
The industrial production of camel’s milk cheese, for which Abeiderrahmane won a Rolex Award in 1993, hit a roadblock with European Union import restrictions. However, camel cheese is still made in small quantities to keep the know-how alive, while awaiting an export market, as the locals do not eat cheese.
Published in 2009