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September 22, 2021

The Torchbearers: Renu Thakur

Never in her wildest dreams did housewife Renu Thakur imagine where cows would take her in life! From Nauni village in Darlaghat all the way to the offices of the Ministry of Finance, Agriculture and Animal Husbandry in the Himachal Pradesh State Government, Renu has been on a wild ride. Renu was one of the 30 founding members of the women only Amrit Dhara Dairy Milk Cooperative, which has grown from strength to strength - swelling to 300 members today. So successful have they been, that they were invited to play an advisory role to the State Government in planning dairy activities for the state. Not bad for a cooperative that began just 5 years ago.

The group was kick started by ACF’s Pashu Swasthya Sevikas who saw an opportunity whilst providing veterinary services for dairy cattle in the area. With an animal health background, the group decided to focus on fodder management and improving animal health. The aim was to create an output of milk with quality and nutritional value so high, it would blow any competition out of the water. And that it did - demand for milk increased, the livelihood of women improved, and the women became local legends!

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“Back then it was very difficult for women to get out of their homes – the terrain was dangerous and women had to walk alone - it was just not socially acceptable for women to be out and about doing things. And trying to sell our product in the market – forget about it! No one would listen to women.” said Renu. But ACF trod the path with them step by step and provided training to help them tackle these issues, one by one. Today they have their own Bulk Milk Cooling Machine, have aspirations to grow the cooperative to 1000 women, and want to build their own brand of packaged milk. And Renu played a key role in championing the cause – helping women join the cooperative and generate income for themselves too. Her drive earned her the title of Cooperative President.

Impact

  • Project Supported by NABARD
  • Awarded 1st Prize as Best Farmer Producer Organisation in the State in 2021
  • 700-800 litres of milk provided by women daily
  • Aim is to increase to 3000-5000 litres of milk daily
  • Cooperative Turnover is Rs. 80 lakhs

Not only has the cooperative provided an identity and income for women, but it has helped forge a path for other women. Today women from all across the community are stepping out of their homes and into income generation and a variety of community activities. The cooperative women broke the glass ceiling set in the community – completely shattered it, in fact.

September 22, 2021

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