Express press service
BALANGIR: Migration to Telangana or Andhra Pradesh to work in brick kilns is an annual affair for Satyabhama Majhi’s family in Bijghat under Muribahal block of Balangir district. For the past three years, however, Satyabhama has not left his village to earn a living.
Although her husband continues to work out of state, she supplements the family income by Rs 10,000 per month through dairy farming. Indeed, the 50-year-old woman now heads the Maa Adishakti dairy cooperative in Bijghat and has managed to convince 30 other women from her small village to join the dairy farming initiated by the Balangir administration.
“I started with one cow and today I have three dairy cows that give 10 to 12 liters of milk a day. The sale brings me at least Rs 9,500 to Rs 10,000 per month, which is enough for our survival and the education of my child. What my husband earns goes into our savings,” she said.
Many other women from the Muribahal block share Satyabhama’s story. Many of them returned during the first wave of Covid-19 but did not retreat. To integrate them into dairy farming and provide them with a regular source of income, the district administration has formed several female-dominated dairy cooperatives under the aegis of the Regional Cooperative Union of Milk Producers of Balangir-Kalahandi-Nuapada of OMFED.
The dairy intervention has mainly focused on the Muribahal and Turekela blocks in the migration and drought prone Titlagarh sub-division. There are a total of 25 milk producer cooperative societies in the two blocks, 10 of which are female-dominated and each of the society has 30 members (households).
Collector Chanchal Rana, also a director of the milk producers union, said dairy farming has emerged as one of the best solutions to curb female migration. “As the women had no funds to purchase dairy cows, we provided them with interest-free loans of Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 from the corpus of the Regional Cooperative Union of Milk Producers of Balangir-Kalahandi – Nuapada. Each member has now bought four to five cows which give 10 liters of milk,” Rana said.
The loan money was recovered from them in 12 months. With this intervention, at least the women and children of the two migration-prone blocks will not go to work now. “It has taken the form of a movement and the women beneficiaries are motivating others to stay with their children and live from dairy farming,” he added.
To further assist them, the district administration has installed bulk milk coolers with an automated milk control system in the blocks. “These automated systems examine the quality of the milk sold and payments are made to us accordingly within 10 days via our bank accounts. This way we can be sure of the transparency of the supply system,” said Snehalata Sahoo, also a member of the Bijghat society.
Balangir currently produces 35,000 liters of milk per day while its needs are 10,000 liters. Surplus milk is sent to Rourkela and Sambalpur. Rana said the success of this female-focused model in Titlagarh has sparked plans for more cooperative societies with women in other blocks in the district.