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Five women dairy entrepreneurs whipping up success stories in rural India

The number of women entrepreneurs in dairy farming is rising by the day. Some of them have also turned around their loss-making family businesses. Here are five women dairy entrepreneurs who have carved a niche in the competitive milk industry

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Five women dairy entrepreneurs who whipped up success stories

Five women dairy entrepreneurs who whipped up success stories in rural India

Over 70 percent of the workforce in India’s dairy sector comprises women. However, most are involved in rearing and milking animals in their households while the men look after marketing and sales. The contribution of women goes unnoticed. 

As women are coming out of the shadows and taking the lead, they are running the show from the beginning to the end. They are educated, aware of best dairy farming practices, understand the importance of quality and hygiene and have developed a dedicated network of buyers.

Women’s participation and entrepreneurship in the dairy industry, especially in rural areas, improves food security and nutrition.

Women dairy farmers globally are gaining financial independence through increased revenue and ownership of animals. Additionally, it boosts and diversifies family incomes.

In some cases, women have turned around their family’s dairy businesses with strategic planning and marketing initiatives that plugged the loopholes. Here are five women dairy entrepreneurs who have carved a niche for themselves in the milk industry:

1. Milan Sharma, Revnar Dairy, Haryana

From teaching the German language to running a dairy farm is a big leap. But that is the leap of faith that Milan Sharma took when she converted her family’s four-cow farm into an organic dairy business in 2017.

Milan owns around 200 Sahiwal and Rathi breed cows with daily milk production of over 250 litres. She supplies milk and dairy products to customers in Faridabad and Noida besides selling online under the Revnar Dairy brand.

Milan’s perseverance and determination have made her a successful organic dairy farmer with an annual turnover of Rs 1.5 crore.

Here’s her story: From German language teacher to millionaire dairy farmer, how Milan Sharma whipped up a success story

2. Kalyani Pandya, Shankar Farm Fresh, Gujarat

This dairy farm, set up by Vikram Pandya, an IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus in 2012, was on the verge of shutting down due to mounting losses and dying cattle. 

In September 2020, Vikram’s lawyer daughter Kalyani Pandya took over the operations and turned the farm into a profitable venture in less than a year, selling organic A2 milk and ghee both online and offline.

Having completed her Master's in Law from University College London (UCL) in 2018 with a specialization in competition law, Kalyani began selling milk to Amul and gradually added 30 buffaloes to their stock of about 70 cows. She expanded to milk processing and the products are now sold across India. 

Her story: Gujarat: How this lawyer-turned-organic farmer made her family's dairy business profitable

3. Shraddha Dhawan, Shraddha Farm, Maharashtra

Shraddha was involved in her father’s buffalo trading business from a young age. She would accompany him when he went to buy and sell buffaloes.

“I also learned the code language used in buffalo trade negotiations. So from milking buffaloes to supplying milk and bargaining with traders, I learned everything by the time I was 13-14 years old,” says Shraddha.

That curious and hard-working girl is now 24 and has turned her father’s small buffalo trading business into a Rs 1-crore dairy and vermicompost enterprise. She has a two-storied buffalo shed with 80 buffaloes and her Shraddha Farm is an inspiration for dairy farmers.

Here’s more: 24-year-old woman turns family’s small buffalo trading business into Rs 1 crore dairy enterprise

4. Aakriti Srivastava, Bahula Naturals, Rajasthan

Aakriti went to Bajju village on the India-Pakistan border in Bikaner, Rajasthan, to document the lives of local communities. She discovered that the traditional livelihoods and living practices of pastoralists were the only solution to the problem of desertification.

Bahula works with the Raika-Rabari (the traditional camel herding communities of Western India) besides other dairy farmers who own the Rathi cow breed. Aakriti is empowering 5,000 pastoralists and farmers of the Thar Desert by training them in agri-dairy best practices and buying their produce. It makes cow and camel milk artisanal cheeses and other products sold across India

“We have mobilized 4,000 cow and camel herders from Jodhpur, Bikaner and Jaisalmer regions to develop India’s first net-zero dairy that starts at the farm level and reaches the consumer with zero carbon footprint,” Aakriti says.

More here: How this 27-year-old woman entrepreneur is taking camel milk products from Thar across India

5. Namita Patjoshi, Kanchan Dairy Farm, Odisha

In 1997, Namita mortgaged her jewellery to buy a cow to provide milk to her large family, including her three children. What began as the sale of surplus milk at Rs10 per litre is now a Rs 1.5 crore dairy business.

The dairy farm has a daily output of 600 litres of milk, which is sold at Rs 65 per litre (Rs 39,000 per day). She also sells cheese, curd and ghee, when there is surplus milk, taking her annual revenues to Rs 1.5 crore. 

She also earns income by selling the calves. “I sell most of my calves when they are 1.5 years old. The selling price varies between Rs 1500 and Rs 2000,” the dairy farmer says.

Read more here: How this housewife set up a Rs 1.5 crore dairy business in Odisha

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