Bala Devi Raut: A Trailblazer in Milk Production Inspiring Change

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Bala Devi Raut, a resident of Sona Ghati village in Dungarpur district of Rajasthan, has been associated with dairy farming for almost 18 years and owns a total of 5 bighas of land. About her farming past she says, "I used to have a buffalo but due to lack of proper management and information, I was earning only 1000 rupees per month. However, this was not enough to sustain my family.  Especially as the buffalo could not give milk throughout the year, my income wasn’t secure." In these circumstances, she had to work very hard to feed her family and also worked as a field laborer to cover all the costs.

This changed when she joined the Saksham Samooh formed and facilitated by Vaagdhara in 2021. Through the Samooh, Bala Devi received information about various government programmes being implemented by government agencies. The facilitator of Vaagdhara, Naresh Bunkar, introduced Bala Devi to the scientists of Krishi Vigyan Kendra and involved her in the training programme to progress and increase her income. She also received a lot of technical information about Livestock Swaraj, attended the Saksham Samooh meetings and adopted it, making her a successful entrepreneur in the dairy industry today.

After joining the Saksham Samooh, Bala devi regularly attended monthly meetings and learnt about different ways to improve her livelihood. Under Vaagdhara's True Farming programme, improved vegetable seeds were provided and with the support and guidance of the organization, an organic food garden was established on her farm where brinjal, tomatoes, pumpkins, bitter gourds, green chillis, cabbages etc. were grown. Last year she was able to earn an income of Rs 4000/- by selling in the local market.

Seeing her enthusiasm for learning, the community facilitator of Vaagdhara asked Bala devi to attend the training programme on dairy farming and value addition to milk organized by Krishi Vigyan Kendra and she attended the training along with the livestock department officials. The facilitators of Vaagdhara and the officer of the livestock department regularly provided the group with necessary advice and information. They were given training on increasing milk production, value-added products of milk, dairy management, fodder cultivation, techniques of artificial insemination of animals etc. Bala devi's confidence grew through this training and with the help of her savings and the support of her family, she bought four more buffaloes. Today she owns 15 buffaloes and grows fodder on two bighas of land so that the animals can be adequately fed.

Bala devi used to sell milk only in her village, but now she sells 40 liters of milk a day on a large scale to the people in Sabala. This earns her around 2000 rupees a day. Apart from this, she earns 10,000 rupees by selling 10 kg of ghee every month and after deducting the input cost, she makes a profit of 1,200 rupees per day i.e. about 35,000 to 40,000 rupees per month and earns 4.30 lakh rupees annually.

The family's road to independence

Bala Devi's family has become independent through milk production. She said that without the support of her family, it would not have been easy to start this business, but with the support of the family, the dairy business is being driven forward. Her mother-in-law, father-in-law, husband, brother-in-law and sister-in-law all support her in this business.

Pay attention to food, water and hygiene

Bala Devi explains that in addition to providing the buffaloes with good food and water, hygiene is also essential. It is important to bath buffaloes twice a day and keep their living area clean at all times. She feeds her buffaloes maize, Barseem grass and dry rice feed.

Caring for the buffaloes like family members

According to Bala Devi, buffaloes need to be cared for like children, only then do they develop a deep bond with their owner. In the event of illness, they must be given medication in advance. She treats small wounds herself, but if required, she also takes the sick buffalo to the doctor.

An inspiration for other women  

While earlier she was barely able to run her household, today she has made profits worth thousands of rupees and has become a source of inspiration for local women and other farmers who visit her livestock unit. Other milk-producing farmers are now adopting her successful Livestock Swaraj model and practicing animal husbandry. Bala Devi says that her entire family is grateful to Vaagdhara for this success, as all this was only possible with its guidance.

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