Satyanarayan Iyer| TNN
PUNE: The first all-women dairy co-operative in the state, Maval Dairy Farmer Services Producer Company Ltd, opened for business on Monday. “Today is the day we waited each day for the last four years,” Radhatai Jagtap, the vice-chairman of the company, said during the opening of the enterprise while her colleagues in the crowd listened to her in rapt attention and her board members nodded in agreement from the front row seat.
The seeds of this dream were sown some four years back when a team of officials from Tata Power met Radhatai and her few colleagues to possibly form a dairy cooperative in Maharashtra. Since then it has been a story of chipping away at the dream, one day at a time — all the while selling a story of hope and gaining equity.
The share capital of the firm was Rs 1,000 per member, all of them farmers. Today, a new membership to the firm costs Rs 5000, for which the 1,200 incumbent women members have all paid too.
It was not a simple journey, the women members said, while recounting the several challenges, including multiple clearances, bureaucratic laxity and general non-belief among the constituents. All of these, however, were overcome by the help from officials, MPs, MLAs, Tata Power and the project partner — ALC India’s intervention, they added.
“We told them again and again that once the farmers become the owner of the produce, they will realise better money for their efforts,” Bharati Shinde, chairman, Maval Dairy Farmer Services Producer Company Ltd, said.
At present, the co-operative is procuring 6,000 litres of milk per day from 26 villages. “The aim is to expand this to a 50,000 litres per day and also make more milk products out of the produce for better realisations,” Shinde said.
The woman’s team — all of whom had no exposure to formal business — were trained in enterprise building, soft skills, corporate governance by a team of ALC India and Tata Power officials. “The milk will be initially sold in Pune under the Creyo brand and will be targeted at premium customers, housing societies and hotels,” said GV Krishna Gopal, co-founder, ALC India.