Nani Borvai’s Dairy Cooperative in Action
by Sreeni KR
The Amrita Milk Cooperative Society of Nani Borvai (AMCSN), a village 70 km from Ahmedabad in Gujarat with a population of 671 people and over 300 buffaloes and 75 cows, has engaged in a variety of activities to provide its members an assured market for their milk. Coordinated by Seema Ben and Praveen Bhai, it was registered under Amul-Sabar Himatnagar Co-operative Societies (Amul Dairy) in October 2018 with initially one hundred members capable of handling 700 liters of milk daily.
Previous attempts to collect and market milk had been unsuccessful, largely due to the absence of a collection center. Seema Ben, village coordinator, recalls the adverse conditions under which women and children labored to earn a few rupees. “They sold milk in some other villages 3 – 4 km away,” she recounts. “During rainy season, this was especially difficult, for the milk would often spoil. Either the children had to leave school to sell it or the women had to leave their household work behind and go themselves.”
It wasn’t until a delegation from Nani Borvai visited Amul Dairy and had a successful discussion with managing director M.R.R.S. Sodhi that an action plan was laid out.
Since its inception, the AMCSN has made great strides in the improvement of livestock farming at Nani Borvai village by integrating better technology and management to the traditional small milk holder production system. It directly and indirectly generates income and jobs for 100 members in the village and distributes approximately 13 lakh rupees among its members every month.
Monaben, who used to go to fields and then walk to sell milk, finds it easier now. “When nobody is at home, even children can take a bicycle and drop the milk at the milk centre. Milk collection during any weather conditions – rain, wind or heat, has become easier.”
Concerned with consumer complaints on quality issues, the Board provides technical input to the milk producers for the enhancement of milk production. The main center at Nani Borvai is committed to maintaining the highest quality of milk and milk products as per the Amul Dairy standards. First, the milk is brought to the respective centers, where quality measurements are taken using a Milko Tester and an Automatic Milk Collection Unit (AMCU). The Milko Tester helps to rapidly determine the percentage of fat in the milk while the AMCU reduces the waiting period. Only after entering the milk measurements twice a day for a week does the cashier settle the account.
As an additional quality control measure, a camp for the improvement of livestock was attended by veterinary doctors, livestock experts, officials, and farmers. In addition, during monthly meetings, veterinarians have conducted routine check-ups and provided quality animal health services, including technical input services such as animal health care and artificial insemination, vaccinations, and a balanced cattle feed supply.
The AMCSN also assures equal wages for men and women. By generating employment for women, it has played a substantial role in economically empowering them, thereby laying a foundation for greater independence and self-esteem. This has helped them acquire freedom of speech, mobility, and involvement in decision making both at home and in the community. One notable outcome is that women have begun interacting with government officials and are actively requesting solutions to their problems.
Another benefit of women involving themselves in day-to-day activities such as supplying milk to the collection unit at a common point is greater interaction and participation, resulting in greater accuracy. For instance, the milk reading is recorded each day, a proper register is maintained, and the data is updated on the computer. Due to these regular activities, the women have come to know each other and unnecessary misunderstanding and conflicts have been resolved. Greater cooperation, in turn, has led to a healthier village environment.
But there is one benefit that may supersede all of the above. This is the control women have gained over their children’s education. Earning their own money means they can allocate it accordingly, and education ranks high on the priority list. This lends credit to a message that has recently garnered public attention: If one woman is educated, the whole family is educated, and when the family is educated, the whole society is educated.