Decentralized dairy cooperatives support livelihoods of thousands of women in rural India

Dairy farming is one of the most important sources of income and nutrition for rural communities in India. Dairy enterprises not only feed rural communities, they also supply milk to urban centres providing high quality protein and other essential nutrients to the population. Driven by rising urbanization and a growing middle class, demand for milk has increased substantially in recent years in India, including in the northern state of Uttarakhand. Strengthening the efficiency of the Uttarakhand dairy market offers major opportunities to smallholders to expand production and sales of milk.

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. . . .