20 to 25 workers slog to make 50 quintals of fodder daily
In Permanki village, 5 km from Vamanjoor, close to the Gurpur river, the silence of the morning is broken by the animated conversation of a small group of women preparing animal feed. They are part of a women’s self-help group (SHG), Permanki Mahila Haala Utpadakara Sangha, which primarily supplies milk to Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF). “It is the first SHG in Karnataka to make animal feed for sale,” says Subhadra Rao, president of the Sangha, which started making fodder two years ago.
Rosemary D’Souza, a founding member of the SHG, says daily 20 to 25 members work for two hours to mix and make 50 quintals of animal feed. “Now, people come from Surathkal (nearly 28 km away) to buy this,” says Ms. D’Souza, a recipient of the ‘Best Lady Farmer Award’ from the Dakshin Kannada Milk Union Limited. The women sell their product for Rs. 17 a kg and take home at least Rs. 200 daily.
Selina Lobo, responsible for making the animal feed, says she contacts other members at the milk collection point or calls them two days before to tell them about the animal feed work.
Anthony D’Souza, farmer and husband of Rosemary, says that with the SHG’s feed, the vet’s visits to his farm have reduced, saving him Rs. 300 a month. Other available animal feed did not increase the fat content in the milk, he adds. (One cow is fed with 1 to 1.5 kg of animal feed a day along with at least 10 kg of dry and green fodder.)
Other than making animal feed, Permanki Mahila Haala Utpadakara Sangha supplies more than 800 litres of milk a day to KMF. Seven years ago, when the group was started, it used to supply 24 litres a day. The SHG got the ‘Uttam Mahila Sangha’ Award from KMF in 2007.
Today, the sangha has 383 members from three villages: Ulaibettu, Bondanthila, and Permanki. The members sell milk to KMF at Rs. 22 of which 50 paise is from KMF (“okkoota”). In addition, they get Rs. 2 a litre from the State government. Now, there was no problem in getting Rs. 2 from the government, said Ms. Rao.
Lavina Fernandes, another member of the group, says she supplies 50 litres a day. Ms. D’Souza says she began by supplying half a litre, and now gives 200 litres a day to KMF.
The SHG’s profit last year was Rs. 1.44 lakh, of which 65 per cent was given as bonus to the members. “We can say we are self sustaining (swaavalambi). The enthusiasm of the members has increased (uthsaaha jaasthi aagide),” she said.