Measure for Measure
A woman run dairy!!! It was a challenge to break through the scepticism of the village elders, but the woman of Nani Kamboyawagha, Jashodaben, Janakben and Jamnaben were determined to start a dairy in their village. It would spare them the trudge to Kamboyawagha with a head load of milk. They prepared their application with Aatapi’s help and presented their file to the Dairy Secretary of Kamboyawagha for his no objection certificate.
“Are you delicate city women in pointy high heels that you can’t walk a kilometre or two with a degda, a pot of milk on your head from your village to the dairy here in Kamboyawagha!”
With Jamna in the lead, the women took their case to every forum, every willing and unwilling ear. The Kamboyawagha Dairy Secretary’s non-cooperation, the local politician’s disapproval and the District Dairy Committee’s lack of confidence in their abilities were among the many obstacles the women faced. Finally the District Dairy Committee at Bharuch relented, they agreed to consider their proposal if the distance from their proposed village to the Moti Kamboyawagha Dairy was a minimum 3 kms as per the stipulated guideline for permitting new dairies.
Singing hymns in praise of their Lord, the women walked along with the adhikari as he measured the distance between the two villages. The distance was 3.3kms! The women squeezed each other’s hands in jubilation.
“You’ll be back here in two months. What do you know about running a dairy.” the Kamboyawagha Dairy Secretary growled..
The permission to start a Dairy Co-operative in Nani Kamboyawagha was granted by the District Dairy Committee. The fledgling dairy started operations with eight women members. Milk collection was limited. The district dairy van did not come to collect the milk. This doorstep service was available for dairies with a collection of 200 litres or more. Husbands’, brothers’ and sons’ motor bikes came to their rescue.
Jamnaben managed the dairy for six months as a honorary service from a back room in her house. Janakben was the rock by her side, doing whatever was needed. Soon the core team mastered the ropes of running a dairy cooperative – fat measurement, accounts, liaison with the district dairy.
“l am not ten pass but my son coached me in the use of computer,”
– Jamnaben recounts.
In six months milk collection rose to 200 litres a day. Today milk collection is 400 litres per day.
Jamnaben and Janakben tackled cases of fraudulent milk supply with bold authority The vigilant management of the Dairy did not escape the notice of the members of the District Dairy Cooperative, the Bhuruch Dudh Dhara Dairy. The Nani Kamboywagha Dairy was honoured with the award of Best Women Dairy of the year 2016-2017.
Sitting on a charpoi in her courtyard, a year later, Jamna looked at her bank passbook with a gleam in her eye. She and other members of the Dairy had earned Rs.45,000 each in the past 20 days collecting limbodi (neem) seeds for the forest department. The opportunity had come through a circular addressed to their dairy from the Dudh Dhara Dairy, Bharuch. GNFC Bharuch rewarded their hard work with a cash award and certificate of merit in 2018.
The struggle and sweet success of the women of Nani Kamboyawagha has inspired three other women’s dairies in the Jambusar region.