It may be a small step. Yes. But in the right direction. Thiruvananthapuram Regional Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union (TRCMPU) has just launched a novel and inspiring dole scheme to their milk producers. Termed as ‘Dairy Farmers’ Employment Guarantee Scheme’, this proposal envisages guarantee of 100 days of employment in an year. Designed after the celebrated MNREG Scheme of the Union Government, TRCMPU’s new programme is initially limited to just 1000 women farmers this financial year.
Designed by the Procurement & Input (P&I) wing of TRCMPU, the proposal to extend handout to the regular suppliers of milk was readily approved by Mr Kallada Ramesh, the Chairman of TRCMPU and received the nod of the Board of Directors.
The beneficiaries should own at least two milch cows and have supplied atleast of 1200 litres of milk (with 12% SNF) for a minimum of 240 days during the period from 1.4.2014 to 31.3.2015. To be eligible for the dole, these women milk producers should remain active dairy farmers during the current year too, pouring at least 300 litres of milk for 60 days during the quarter ending on 30.6.2015. To start with, the Union has earmarked ₹ 1 cr. to extend the dole to 1000 farmers @ ₹ 10000 each during the current year. (@Rs100/- per day for 100 days)
Criteria for the selection of the milk society:
- It should be an APCOS
- Local sale of milk by the society should be less than 50% during the period from 1.4.2014 to 30.6.2015
- It should have poured a minimum of 200 litres of milk per day during the same period.
- The total solid content of milk should not be less than 12%.
TRCMPU collects around 243000 litres of milk per day through its four dairies at Thiruvananthapuram (100000 litres/day), Kollam (52000 litres/day) , Alapuzha (53000 litres/day) and Pathanamthitta (38000 litres/day).
Though there are around 2 lakhs members in the 668 milk societies of four districts under TRCMPU, it is estimated that only around 50000 farmers supply milk regularly. It is expected that around 40 percentage of these regular suppliers meet the criteria for selection to the new Employment Guarantee Scheme and efforts are on to find the exact numbers. Only one milk producer will be allowed from one family in the initial phase.
The beneficiaries from the milk cooperative societies which could supply a minimum of 200 litres of milk (with SNF 12%) per day during 2014-15 alone will be admitted to the scheme. These societies shall continue to supply the same quantity of milk during the current year too. The local sale of milk by such societies should never exceed 40% of the total collection. The number of beneficiaries from each district under TRCMPU will commensurate to the total volume of milk collected. This pilot project is wholly financed by TRCMPU. And if the Government of Kerala lends financial support, more and more farmers could be included in the scheme.
The new proposal gains significance as the efforts of the Government of Kerala to get the dairy farmers included in the scheme under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) couldn’t fetch positive results. At present, works as construction of poultry shelter, goat shelter, cattle shed, and azolla cultivation alone are allowed under MGNREG Scheme.
Earlier, Mr Oommen Chandy, Hon. Chief Minister of Kerala led a delegation to Union Ministry of Rural Development and made a request to include dairy farming in the ambit of works permissible under MNREGA. Though efforts have been made by the state minister for Rural
Development, Mr KC Joseph to include dairy farming under MNREGS and has announced at several public functions that “The Hon. Union minister for Rural Development, Jairam Ramesh has in principle approved Kerala’s proposal to include dairy farming, fishing, Khadi and coir industry in Kerala in MGNREG Scheme”, nothing materialized.
TRCMPU has decided to name this prestigious scheme in memory of
the Milkman of India, Dr Varghese Kurien as “Dr V Kurien Memorial Dairy Farmers’ Employment Guarantee Scheme”. This programme will be launched on 2nd October 2015. Another initiative to donate eight houses for the financially weaker milk producers (two each in Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Kollam districts) will also be inaugurated on the same day.
A pertinent question is still to be answered: Will the TRCMPU deny the benefit of an eligible woman milk producer if her milk society do not meet the criteria? Ironically, the TRCMPU is distributing an award for the milk society in the name of late Koyivila Vijayan, a fore runner of the co-operative movement in Kerala. But the Milk Society developed by him (Thevalakkara) sells 85% of the collected milk locally and doesn’t meet the criteria for selection. Just imagine the sad plight of an eligible woman milk producer of this milk society, who will never become a beneficiary of the scheme.
However small it may be, this new support scheme would trigger the morale of dairy farmer and would ignite the spirit,confidence and prospects of dairy farming community.