It is impossible not to notice the immense confidence and exuberance on Julfina Bano’s face. The 26-year-old Board member of Sakhi Mahila Milk Producer Company (SMMPC), one of the five Milk Producer Companies set up under the Tata Dairy Mission initiative, is a delight to talk to. In a village where there are barely one or two women who have passed 10th grade, Julfina is proud to be a Science graduate. Interestingly, her love for studies continues. “I am currently pursuing Bachelor of Education. Fortunately, I come from a family where studies are given a lot of importance. Both girls and boys in our families were given equal opportunity to study and progress,” says Julfina.
Despite such a busy schedule (managing home, kids and studies), it is incredible to see how Julfina finds time for running a dairy business while also working as a board member at Sakhi. “I think it is a matter of perspective. I have had a lot of challenges to overcome and am still facing flak from people around. Of course, my journey wouldn’t have been possible without management’s support. But when I look back and see how far I’ve come; I feel proud of myself,” she smiles.
Talking about her journey with Sakhi, Julfina’s eyes shine with enthusiasm. “I never wanted to do dairy farming and always aspired for a job. To me, dairy looked a menial task with meagre earnings. The credit of transforming dairy from subsistence mode to entrepreneurial venture undoubtedly goes to Sakhi. The trainings and exposure visits have instilled a lot of confidence in me,” says Julfina.
Remembering the initial days of her association with Sakhi, Julfina recalls the tough time. She was mocked, discouraged and even stopped from attending meetings. But Julfina ignored them and steadily moved ahead. She could see a ray of hope in the business proposition. Her efforts were not wasted. Not only did Julfina’s income rise exponentially, she was also selected as the board member of SMMPC.
Julfina adds, “In three years, I have been able to support my family and pay for my education too. From having one buffalo, we now have five buffaloes and a cow. The bank staff treats me with respect while earlier they never even considered our loan application. Sakhi has changed my life.”
Personally, Julfina wants to get a job after completing her studies. She plans to hire labourers to manage the dairy. As a board member, she wants more and more women to join Sakhi and the brand to grow stronger than ever. Today, Julfina is a role model for several women in Mewat and Shekhawati.
About the Tata Dairy Mission:
The Tata Dairy Mission initiative of the Tata Trusts works with small and marginal farmers to promote milk production as a sustainable livelihood option. The Dairy Health and Nutrition Initiative India Foundation (DHANII), a Section 8 company established by the Tata Trusts, has joined hands with NDDB Dairy Services (NDS) to facilitate launch of Milk Producer Companies in the rural and remote regions of India. Under this initiative, Sakhi Mahila Milk Producer Company Limited (SMMPC), Alwar was set up in November 2016. As on March 2020, it covers around 20,000 members across 325 villages from 3 districts and has a share capital of Rs3 crores, with a turnover of Rs138 crores.
All the shareholders in the company are women dairy farmers who have set an exemplary success model for several others to follow.