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India: Maharashtra's first all-women dairy co-op in operation

With a view to boost women entrepreneurship in dairy farming, Maharashtra's only all-women dairy cooperative has commenced operations in Pune.

Though women contribute over 75% of the workforce in India's dairy output of 176.4 million tons annually, the top positions in dairy cooperatives across the country are occupied men. Women are mostly involved in animal husbandry operations like feeding, milking and sale of milk.

Photo: Canva
Photo: Canva

Launch of the first all women dairy enterprise

In 2015, Maval Dairy Farmer Services Producer Company was set up as Maharashtra’s first all women dairy enterprise at Maval in Pune with 334 members with an aims to empower women, economically and socially.

The dairy co-operative also received support from India's power company, Tata Power, which supported it to launch its own brand Creyo.

With a capacity of 10,000 liters per day (LPD) capacity, Maval Dairy has set up 15 advanced milk collection centres covering 26 villages which procure around six tons of milk daily from various partner villages.

With the help of Tata Power, the cooperative has started enhancing milk collection and adding new members to the dairy by conducting surveys in surrounding areas and identifying the requirements of people in Maval.

“Traditionally, men have dominated the dairy cooperative business in India, but there has been a progressive change. Essentially, the roles of women were restricted to care providers, feeding and milking the animals. In recent times, their increased participation has strengthened the dairy cooperative movement," Tata Power CEO Praveer Sinha said.

In order to run the plant at its full capacity, the cooperative has added 15 new villages and have connected 3,000 farmer households has also integrated other support services like mini dairy farms, veterinary services, training for managing dairy farms and product marketing.

Other than producing milk, Maval Dairy will also produce high-quality dairy products including paneer (cottage cheese), cream, buttermilk etc, apart from supplying milk larger cities like Mumbai and Pune, the cooperative said in a statement.

Tata Power has financed around 40% of the US$ 2.8 million project over the past four years with the women graduating from marginal farmers to agro-entrepreneurs who completely run and manage the project.

Another company official Ashwin Patil said that to enable them to assume leadership roles, we provided them orientation training on clean milk production and animal management and awarded 'Mini Dairy Entrepreneurship' certificates.

During the opening event, Maval member of parliament Shrirang Barane and member of legislative assembly Sunil Shelkar were present along with a large number of women farmers and the managers of the women's cooperative.