Unorganized markets, transportation difficulties and inaccessible input and extension support services are but a few of the obstacles facing villagers wishing to start dairy businesses in Uttarakhand. The lack of storage facilities acts as an incentive to farmers to keep unsold milk and mix it with the next day’s batch, causing higher levels of milk spoilage and contamination, as well as financial losses. Faced with these obstacles, increasing milk production and making a reasonable profit is extremely difficult for Uttarakhand’s small-scale dairy farmers.
This situation began to change in rural Uttarakhand in 2008 when the Himmotthan Society started assisting a group of dairy-farming women to establish self-help federations, pooling their resources and knowledge to improve milk quality and cattle productivity. The women formed livestock producer groups: one group per village, with 12–15 villages per federation, and one dairy enterprise per federation. Each federation received a grant to purchase equipment for transport, storage and the testing of milk quality. Milk collection centres were established within 16–20 km of each dairy enterprise and 40 km from end markets, and vehicles were hired by each federation to transport the milk to market. But access to feed, veterinary health and breeding services and technical knowledge to improve milk yields remained a problem.
A year later, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) teamed up with Himmotthan to provide research and technical support to help address the major productivity constraints facing Uttarakhand’s small-scale farmers.
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