BALANGIR: Migration to Telangana or Andhra Pradesh for working in brick kilns has been an annual affair for the family of Satyabhama Majhi in Bijghat under Muribahal block of Balangir district. In the last three years, though, Satyabhama hasn’t stepped out of her village to earn a living.
Although her husband continues to work outside the State, she has been supplementing the family income with Rs 10,000 a month through dairy farming. In fact, the 50-year-old woman today heads the Maa Adishakti dairy cooperative in Bijghat and has managed to convince 30 other women in her small village to join dairy farming which was initiated by the Balangir administration.
“I started with one cow and today, I have three milch cows which give 10 to 12 litres of milk per day. The sale fetches me at least Rs 9,500 to Rs 10,000 a month which is enough for our survival and my child’s education. What my husband earns goes into our saving,” she said.
Many other women of Muribahal block share Satyabhama’s story. Many of them returned during the first wave of Covid-19 but have not moved back. To bring them under dairy farming fold and provide a regular source of income, the district administration has formed several women-dominated dairy cooperatives under Balangir-Kalahandi-Nuapada Regional Cooperative Milk Producer Union of OMFED.
The dairy intervention has been primarily focusing on Muribahal and Turekela blocks in the migration and drought-prone Titlagarh sub-division. There are a total 25 milk producer cooperative societies in both the blocks of which, 10 are women-dominated and each of the society comprises 30 members (households).
Collector Chanchal Rana, also administrator of the milk producer union, said dairy farming came across as one of the best solutions to curb migration of women. “Since the women had no funds to purchase milch cows, we provided them interest-free loans of Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 from the corpus of Balangir-Kalahandi-Nuapada Regional Cooperative Milk Producer Union. Each member has now purchased four to five cows that give 10 litres of milk,” said Rana.
The loan money was recovered from them in 12 months. With this intervention, at least women and children of both the migration prone blocks are not going out to work now. “It has taken shape of a movement and the women beneficiaries are motivating others to stay back with their children and eke out living by dairy farming”, he added.
To help them further, the district administration has installed bulk milk coolers wh ich come with automated milk control system in the blocks. “These automated systems examine the quality of milk sold and payments are made to us accordingly within 10 days through our bank accounts. This way, we can be sure about transparency in the procurement system,” said Snehalata Sahoo who is also a member of the Bijghat society.
Balangir currently produces 35,000 litres of milk per day against its requirement of 10,000 litres. The surplus milk is sent to Rourkela and Sambalpur. Rana said success of this women-oriented model in Titlagarh has prompted plans for more cooperative societies with women in other blocks of the district.