The script is refreshing, replete with hope. Twelve tribal women from Jharkhand have given remote Kudu and Sneha, two blocks in the backward Lohardaga district, a new economic lifeline: dairy farming.
Taking a cue from the Amul success story in Gujarat, these women have started a milk cooperative movement that is yielding rich returns.
Aided by PRADAN, a voluntary organisation, the dozen form the spine of the milk chilling plant at Lohardaga — supplying bulk of the raw milk.
What started as a cottage enterprise has become a wave with 196 members. This excludes 158 women from the Sneha block, who have a similar set-up of their own.
The milkmaids of Kudu have formed a self-help group, Mahila Mandap, under the United Nations Development Project that gained strength after they received funds under the centrally-sponsored Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana.
A grant of Rs 24,250 and a loan of Rs 25,150 each will enable them to purchase two cows each and erect a shed.
"The Lohardaga plant had to manage with 1,200 litres of milk daily despite a capacity of 10,000 litres. Now, it gets 6,000 litres everyday, most of it supplied by these women," said Aradhana Patnaik, who took over the RSVY in 2004 as the Lohardaga Deputy Commissioner. Patnaik is now Deputy Commissioner of Gumla.
The women, belonging to the Oraon, Munda and Lohara tribes, make an additional Rs 800 every month. "Now, they produce 3,000 litres per day in Kudu. Assessing their success rate, we have set a target of 10,000 litres for 2008," said PRADAN's Programme Director Soumen Biswas.