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White revolution in 90 days - Centre-sponsored dairy entrepreneurship changes face of tribal hamlet

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By ANIMESH BISOEE
  • Published 19.07.11
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Joba Murmu (35) had to watch her husband Chako die of a chest ailment last year, as there was no money for treatment. But now, she sends her daughter Dulari (14) to a private Hindi medium school in Jamshedpur by bus.

Gosai Baskey (55) was almost on the verge of starving when monsoon played truant in 2009 and 2010. He begged for work as help in other people’s fields. Today, he sends daughter Champa (19) to Jamshedpur Workers’ College .

Thakra Murmu (35) was a daily casual labourer at various firms in Sakchi, Jamshedpur. Now he’s opened his own shop at his village.

Jamshedpur, July 18: Ninety days, and the milk of prosperity is flowing in tribal hamlet Turiabera, in Deogarh village under Bhillaipahari panchayat, some 30 km from the city.

As many as 25 families in the predominantly Santhali hamlet, just one km off from NH-33 between Jamshedpur and Ghatshila, are witnessing a white revolution.

Three months ago, the dairy development scheme of Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), earlier known as Micro Economic Socio Organisation (MESO), started under the Union government’s rural welfare project.

Under this project, 50 cows were distributed to 25 tribal beneficiaries, selected on the basis of a survey in the drought-hit area. “The condition was that each beneficiary had to be below poverty line and not possess any agricultural land. We selected villagers and disbursed two cows to each through the NGO Forestation and Urban Rural Integrated Development Association (Furida) three months ago,” said East Singhbhum additional district magistrate (law and order) Vijay Kumar Singh.

Villagers like Joba, who once scrounged for food after crops failed in two successive droughts, are now earning Rs 5,000-Rs 6,000 a month by selling milk at Rs 25 per litre.

“The key to success was transparency. We had to be result-oriented as the investment was considerable. Each cow cost around Rs 30,000. Fodder for the first month was given free. We gave each beneficiary a bucket and milk jar with his or her name written on it. We also constructed cowsheds. These apart, villagers, who had no experience in dairy entrepreneurship, were trained for a month at Chakulia Gaushala, at a cost of Rs 1,65,000,” the ADM said.

Gram pradhan Simul Murmu, who was entrusted with the responsibility to co-ordinate with NGO officials at the project office located at the heart of Deogarh village, said changes were visible. “Villagers who didn’t have enough to eat are today selling milk to the city. It’s a miracle,” Murmu said, adding his wife Meghla was also most enthusiastic about the project.

He said the Furida representative came daily in mornings and evenings to collect milk. “It’s tested in a machine (read: lactometer). There’s no chance of tampering with quality. Then the milk is sold to city outlets and eateries and hotels dotting NH-33,” he said.

Among the beneficiaries, three youths are assigned to sell milk under NGO supervision. But again, to avoid corruption, the roster changes every week. Furida district president Bhasker Kumar said one litre of milk sells at Rs 25. “It’s collected fresh every morning and evening so there is no chance of milk getting stale. We check consistency with a lactometer. Payment is made to villagers on a weekly basis,” he said.