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Finding a vocation and a voice

The Dairy Health and Nutrition Initiative India (DHANII) Foundation, a collaboration between the Tata Trusts and NDDB Dairy Services, was set up in 2016 to provide small and marginal farmers an additional source of income through milk production. Building on the fact that most small farmers own one or two milch animals — and their maintenance and care is typically managed by the women of the house — DHANII set up five milk producer companies (MPCs) in five states of India. About 95% of the members of these MPCs are women, many of whom are thriving dairy entrepreneurs. This has not only given them cash in hand to invest in and grow their businesses and pay for household needs, it has also improved their standing in their families and the larger community.

Members of the Sakhi Mahila milk producer company (MPC) from Sahajpur village in Rajasthan’s Alwar district
Members of the Sakhi Mahila milk producer company (MPC) from Sahajpur village in Rajasthan’s Alwar district
Aashubi (left), also a resident of Sahajpur and a longtime Sakhi MPC member, with others from her village
Aashubi (left), also a resident of Sahajpur and a longtime Sakhi MPC member, with others from her village
Members of the Ruhaanii MPC at a collection centre in Rampur Mander village in the Mansa district of Punjab
Members of the Ruhaanii MPC at a collection centre in Rampur Mander village in the Mansa district of Punjab
A group of women from Bamboli village in Alwar district gets the lowdown on the benefits of entering the dairy farming business
A group of women from Bamboli village in Alwar district gets the lowdown on the benefits of entering the dairy farming business
An MPC employee conducts a contact group meeting in a Rajasthan village
An MPC employee conducts a contact group meeting in a Rajasthan village
Sita Devi, a member of the Alwar MPC, brings her day’s collection to a centre with a newly-inaugurated milk chiller unit in Sheoganj in Rajasthan
Sita Devi, a member of the Alwar MPC, brings her day’s collection to a centre with a newly-inaugurated milk chiller unit in Sheoganj in Rajasthan
Laxmi Devi, a member of Asha MPC, inaugurates a chiller unit set up at the Vellangari milk pooling point in Sheoganj (the chilled milk is bottled and sold to institutional buyers or delivered to the doorstep of individual buyers)
Laxmi Devi, a member of Asha MPC, inaugurates a chiller unit set up at the Vellangari milk pooling point in Sheoganj (the chilled milk is bottled and sold to institutional buyers or delivered to the doorstep of individual buyers)
A milk-vending machine of the Asha MPC (Rajasthan) provides fresh milk to village residents
A milk-vending machine of the Asha MPC (Rajasthan) provides fresh milk to village residents
Facilitators from the Sakhi MPC in Alwar talk to farmers about better cattle care
Facilitators from the Sakhi MPC in Alwar talk to farmers about better cattle care
Members of the Ruhaanii MPC, which has dairy entrepreneurs from both Haryana and Punjab, swap notes
Members of the Ruhaanii MPC, which has dairy entrepreneurs from both Haryana and Punjab, swap notes