Rural entrepreneurship can help stop distress migration. Here is proof from rural Uttar Pradesh
A modern dairy in a village is slowing down the process of migration in the area and raising the livelihoods of the rural inhabitants.
Pavan Kumar Maurya 3 March 2023 12:39 PM GMT
Manikpur Saani, Chandauli (Uttar Pradesh)
Ever since the Moomark dairy was set up in June of 2021, nearly 2,000 inhabitants of Manikpur Saani village are earning an additional income which has greatly helped matters. The dairy also pays them a lot more than what the local milkman would pay.
“Almost every household in our village has cattle. Before 2021, we could barely make ends meet as farming was unpredictable and the local milkmen never paid us on time, and when they did the rate was really low, ” Umravati Devi, a 43-year-old resident of the village Chandauli district, Uttar Pradesh, told Gaon Connection.
“They paid us Rs 20- Rs 22 per litre of milk but now we get anything between Rs 40 and Rs 90 a litre depending on the fat content in the milk,” she added. The Moomark dairy has modern equipment that can assess the percentage of fat in the milk and villagers are paid accordingly.
The credit to set up this dairy goes to Rajnath Singh who availed the franchisee of the Moomark Dairy in 2021. Moomark is a Bengaluru-based food and beverages manufacturing company which provides technical and logistic support to set up modern dairies across India. So far, more than 1.7 million farmers supply milk to the company in more than 23,000 villages.
“The villagers had been selling milk from their cattle to the local milkmen because they had no other options. Here, in the dairy, we pay the villagers on time which gives them the confidence to sell their milk to us. Also, the better payments help them compensate for their farm losses,” Rohit Maurya, the operator of the dairy, told Gaon Connection.
“We are able to pay them higher prices because we use the milk to produce a variety of dairy products like cottage cheese, sweets, buttermilk, curd, and clarified butter which are sold under the Moomark brand name. We also have a storage facility of about 500 litres which helps us preserve the milk for longer durations,” he added.
When dairy came to the village
In 2021, Singh, the dairy farmer who came up with the idea of setting up a dairy with modern technology, applied for the franchisee of the Moomark dairy which now pays him a monthly salary of Rs 8,000.
“This village already had an ecosystem of dairy farming. It just needed some modern approach to streamline the dairy business. We now supply milk and milk products to Chandauli and Varanasi,” Singh said.
Villagers have benefitted from the dairy. Ghasi Ali Ansari, a 62-year-old cattle rearer told Gaon Connection that he prefers to sell the milk at the dairy. “Before I would have to travel more than 15 kilometres to the nearest dairy market,” he told Gaon Connection.
“I used to spend more than four hours every day going to the market to sell the milk. Here, I not only sell the milk a lot quicker but also the rates are way higher than what I get at the market,” Ansari added.
Keeping the migration in check
The Mumark dairy has also come as a boon to the youth in the village who otherwise were forced to migrate to far off cities in search of livelihood.
“I used to work in a factory in Gurgaon [Gurugram] for a 12-hours shift for which I was paid Rs 12,000 a month. I could barely save any money. Then, when the third wave of COVID-19 pandemic happened, I came back to my village. I helped my father manage the four buffaloes that we have,” Amarjeet Singh, a 27-year-old villager, told Gaon Connection.
“We were fortunate that the dairy came up too. Today, I sell up to 10 litres of milk every day and earn Rs 600 in a day. The Rs 18,000 I earn in a month is far better than my earnings in Gurgaon,” he added.
Singh is not alone. Dozens of migrant workers who returned to the village in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic are now financially stable thanks to the Mumark dairy and are able to sustain a decent lifestyle.
“I worked as a supervisor in a company in Varanasi but lost my job during COVID-19. I came home and did some farming on the five bighas [an hectare] of land but that wasn’t enough,” Gorakhnath Bind, another village resident, told Gaon Connection.
Just when he was thinking of branching out into some other business, the dairy came up, he said. “Today, I own three cows and a buffalo and I can easily save upto Rs 8,000 a month now,” the 32-year-old said.
It is not only Manikpur Saani village but villagers from Jewariyabad, Chhatem, and Buddhpur are also supplying milk to the dairy.
“The profits that the dairy farmers are recording now were unheard of even two-three years ago. The government wants more farmers to take up dairy farming and we often organise awareness campaigns and camps for them,” Vinod Yadav, the chief veterinary officer in the Chandauli district, told Gaon Connection.
Also, Vijay Pal, the veterinary doctor employed at the Mumark dairy stated that modern dairy farming techniques have been crucial in increasing the productivity of the cattle in the village.
“We not only provide better prices to the cattle rearers but also provide them credit and technical assistance to enhance their produce. We are there to help the villagers 24/7. The milkmen who used to buy milk from the villagers did not have the capacity to provide services that we provide,” Rajnath Singh, Manager of the dairy, told Gaon Connection.
Better income means farmers are also investing in cultivating crops. “I cultivate wheat, paddy, mustard, black gram, peas, and other pulses. And, it is because of my earnings from selling milk at the dairy that I am able to use quality fertilisers, seeds and insecticides which are vital for increasing my yield. Also, when there are losses at the farm, the earnings from the dairy help me tide over bad times,” Ramvilas Maurya, who owns about a hectare of land, told Gaon Connection.
Daily wage labourers in the village are also a happy lot. Krishnand, a 36-year-old daily said that ever since he has started selling milk to the dairy, his income has been steadily increasing and is timely.
“The payment for the government's daily wage labour is often delayed but the dairy pays me on time and I earn a lot more than what I did from toiling for eight hours in the daily wage work,” he told Gaon Connection.
The vet at the dairy also ensures the cattle are kept healthy, said Shivam Kumar, an 18-year-old resident of the village.
“Right from help with quality breeding and treating diseases in cattle to vaccination against diseases, the vet at the dairy comes to our aid whenever our animals need medical help,” Shivam told Gaon Connection.
But, the booming dairy business has left the milkmen in the doldrums. “We are not able to make any profits now. All the milk is being supplied to the dairy. We will have to think of some other occupation,” Rakesh Kumar Bind, who once bought milk from the villagers, told Gaon Connection.