January 2018

A micro-dairy revolution

Micro-dairies that churn milk and milk products for Uttarakhand tourists support over 600 local families

Villagers bring in the day's milk to the collection centre

This is a story of rebuilding and resurgence. In June 2013, the north Indian state of Uttarakhand nested in the Himalayas faced one of the biggest natural disasters that India has seen. Multiple cloudbursts over several days, led to devastating floods and landslides washing away entire villages, their lives and livelihoods. The Rudraprayag, Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Tehri and Pithoragarh districts were among the worst affected once. Today, just four years on, villages in these districts have not only rebuilt their homes, but also adopted a sustainable way of life with the support of Himmotthan Society, an associate organisation of Tata Trusts.


Rebuilding lives

The womenfolk play an active role in the micro dairies

While relief work was the immediate priority for the Trusts and Himmotthan Society, a baseline survey was conducted, in around 107 villages of 8 clusters, to study the long-term needs of the villagers. One of the solutions that emerged was to develop a sustainable micro-dairy scheme through a cooperative approach.

Financial support was provided to the villagers to buy cows and set up the micro-dairies, and a plan was implemented to ensure the project becomes successful and sustainable. The plan included:

  • Encouraging farmers to rear improved breeds to enhance the quality and quantity of milk. This way, household requirements for milk within a cluster could be fulfilled and surplus milk could be marketed through the micro-dairies.
  • Promoting planting of grass and trees on private and common land to fulfil the fodder requirement of animals.
  • Setting up of women’s cooperatives to run the operations in each village. A milk collection centre was established in the village and a member of the cooperative was assigned the responsibility to collect the milk in the village and bring it to the roadside point every day from where the cooperative’s vehicle would transport the milk to the micro-dairy.
  • Training eight youths as paravets to provide door-to-door artificial insemination and animal health services. They were also educated to implement better feeding practices, improve milk yields and attend to livestock.
  • Imparting technical know-how to producers to improve the quality and quantity of milk.
  • Employing local youth as dairy managers and sales persons.

Champa Devi, who is from a disaster-affected Devar village of Guptkashi was supported by Sath Hain Hum Uttarakhand Livelihood Initiative, a post-disaster livelihood project of Himmotthan Society. She is working as a milk collector in her village. She collects 70 litres of milk every day in her village and supplies it to the dairy cooperative and earns around Rs.5,000every month.

Janki Devi of village Lumti in Dharchula cluster lost her land in the 2013 disaster which was the main source of income of her family. Uttarakhand Post Disaster Livelihood Initiative of Himmotthan Society provided her with a cow and now she is supplying 6 litres of milk every day to the dairy cooperative and earning around Rs.6,500 every month.

Proper feeding and scientific approach has improved the health of cattle and increased milk yields

The standard systems and procedures of dairy operation and management were put into place and it was just a matter of time before 100 disaster-affected villages in Uttarakhand participated in this project to transform their livelihood and financial situation.

Milk and milk products such as curd and paneer from the dairies began to be supplied to resorts and restaurants in the region, ensuring fresh local fare for visiting tourists, and generating substantial earnings for the villagers.

Creating lasting impact

The micro dairies have started a white revolution in the hills
The micro-dairies project has brought in lasting changes to all aspects of people’s lives in these villages. From learning new professional skills and better income to empowering women and building a new industry with more job opportunities.

There’s one micro-dairy for every cluster and a total of eight micro-dairies across the district that handle milk from households in the villages. Payment is settled at the end of every month, and the amount is directly credited to the villagers’ bank accounts. In the last financial year alone, a collective amount of Rs. 1 crore was paid to individual households for the milk they supplied.

While the villages ensure a steady supply of milk, there is a ready demand for it from the hundreds of restaurants and resorts who cater to the regular flow of tourists and pilgrims to the hills.