Pankaj Jaiswal | HT
LUCKNOW — Jaswanti Rajput is among the 22,000 women who scripted the success story of Balinee – a milk producer company where all milk suppliers are women. Balinee, in turn, is scripting a women’s empowerment story. Balinee means ‘a powerful woman’ – in this case, powerful women.
Also, out of the nine-member board of directors of the company, seven, including the chairperson, are women milk suppliers.
Forty-five-year-old Jaswanti’s story runs parallel with that of Balinee’s. In January 2019, when the company was incorporated, Jaswanti of Naya Kheda, Prithivipur in Babina of Jhansi district, became a member milk supplier. Since then, every morning and evening Jaswanti milks her milch cattle and walks to the nearby Balinee milk collection centre carrying her milk pails (containers) to sell milk.
“I had one cow then, now with the regular earning from milk sale, I have bought a buffalo and a cow. I will soon buy one more cow,” says Jaswanti.
Balinee’s chief executive officer (CEO) Dr OP Singh said, “We have paid ₹61 crore since inception to our women milk suppliers. And the company’s net profit is nearly ₹3 crore so far.”
“Balinee means a powerful woman. That is what our company and brand name is,” he added.
Singh said, “Balinee is the only all-woman milk producer company in the state and is headquartered in Jhansi.”
The company was set up under the “dairy value chain development project” in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh and is financially supported by the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) and UP State Rural Livelihood Mission (UPSRLM) with the National Dairy Development Board Dairy Services as the technical support agency.
“The company has the objective of safeguarding the interests of member suppliers (exclusively women) by providing them round-the-year access to the organised market in a fair and transparent manner, timely payment, capacity building and providing livestock support services to increase milk productivity etc,” said Singh.
As of now, the company has 22,000 milk supplier members across 521 villages of five districts of Bundelkhand – Jhansi, Jalaun, Banda, Hamirpur and Chitrakoot. Its target is to have 36,000 members across 600 villages in all the seven Bundelkhand districts, including Lalitpur and Mahoba, by March 2022.
“We are not far from our target now,” Umakanti Pal, 31, who is one of the directors of the company noted. Umakanti is a milk supplier and secretary of the Jai Ma Durgey Women Self-Help Group in her village of Banki, Hamirpur.
“As an individual milk supplier, I have supplied over 2,000 litres of milk to Balinee so far and earned over ₹50,000. As one of the directors, I am engaged in meetings, decision-making, connecting more villages and women to the company. Such a company is a boon for the women of the region,” she said.
Balinee, till December 2020, procured 105 lakh litres of milk from its women milk suppliers with a peak procurement of 85,000 litres per day. The company has 10 chilling plants in the region with a total capacity of 1.5 lakh litres per day.
“Balinee supplies milk to Mother Dairy in Etawah. We send milk in our milk trucks,” said Singh. All women milk suppliers of the company also hold shares.
“We have put in an efficient system of milk procurement at every procurement village. The milk is weighed, tested and the value calculated without manual intervention using data-processer-cum-milk collection unit. The real-time data is transferred using GPRS to a central server and the milk payment is transferred directly to the individual member’s bank account once in 10 days. In addition to the acknowledgement slip, the members also get SMS on their phones,” said Singh.
The company also provides services for productivity improvement of milch cattle, quality nutrition, feed and breeding. It has so far done 6,000 artificial inseminations, he said.