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Women in the parched landscape of the Bundelkhand region are steering towards self-sufficiency through milk production run by a well-structured women self-help group that has expanded to over 40,000 female members.

These women are partners in Balinee Milk Producer Company Limited and have taken big strides since the inception of the company in 2019.

The company, which was inaugurated by Adityanth, has members spread across six districts of the Bundelkhand region.

During a virtual programme based on the theme of ‘Aatmanirbhar Nari Shakti’ last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the initiative.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath appreciated the successful experiment in Jhansi while speaking at a special session of the state assembly on September 22.

Started by Uma Kanti Pal, who mobilised women of the villages, the initiative has helped thousands of women of the region stand up on their feet.

The women members take care of milk production, collection and safe transport to processing centres. They are paid on a weekly basis for their work. At the break of dawn, the centres could be seen buzzing with activities with women members one after another visiting there with their pots full of milk. The earnings have helped rural women contribute towards running their families and providing better education to their children.

Women who are partners in the ‘Balinee Milk Producer Company Limited’ at a milk collection centre of the company, at a village in Jhansi district.

Women who are partners in the ‘Balinee Milk Producer Company Limited’ at a milk collection centre of the company, at a village in Jhansi district.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Balinee Milk Producer Company Limited OP Singh said, “We collect over 1.35 lakh litre milk every day from more than 40,000 women members from six districts of Bundelkhand region, including Jhansi, Lalitpur, Jalaun, Mahoba, Banda and Hamirpur”.

“Over 7,000 more women members will soon join us, which we are expecting will help to increase our capacity to 2 lakh litre milk every day.”

The woman members have been made the shareholders in the company. Currently, the company has 703 milk collection centres in 795 villages in six districts. The collection centres are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities to determine the quality of the milk. The milk collected is sold in Jhansi city and is also sent to other milk processing firms located in nearby states.

To facilitate easy payment and empower its women members, the company has also helped them to link with the banking system.

“We have also signed MoU with various banks so that our members can get easy loans from the bank to buy cattle. We are also working to ensure the milking cattle of our members get insured,” Singh said.

The earnings have helped the women members to improve their status and quality of life.

Asha Devi, a group member, said that at the time of joining the company, she only had one cattle but with help of the earnings she now owns three cattle.

“I have admitted my children to a better school and am able to save some money for the future,” she added.

Another member Pavitra Devi of the Babina area said, “In the last three years, I have increased the number of cattle from two to 11. The cattle give around 40-litre milk every day which I submit to the collection centre”.

The company also provides assistance to members in purchasing cattle. Besides, the women members are also provided assistance by veterinary experts, the CEO of the Balini group said.

“We have recently started processing milk to prepare Ghee. We will soon make a foray into manufacturing of other milk products,” Singh said.

In the last financial year, a payment of Rs 26 crore was deposited in the bank account of members. The payment is done purely by digital medium directly to the bank accounts of the members. Since its inception a total of Rs 243 crore has been paid by the company to its members and the firm has earned a profit of Rs 13.8 crore, Singh said.

Source : The Hindu Businessline 01st Oct 2022 by