Om Organic Cotton Pvt. Ltd, a Fairtrade certified cotton producer organization is situated in Kantabanji, one of the rainfed geographies of Western Odisha in Balangir District known for droughts, where farmers are solely dependent on erratic rainfall during the season.
The organization currently works with approx. 4000 cotton farmers. Since 2011 it has been supported by Bansal Organic Cotton Growers Group (BOGG), in relieving the farmers from production and market challenges by shifting them to organic cultivation and assuring them of markets with a better price under the Fairtrade System.
As Cotton is the sole crop for the sustenance of most farmers, Bansal Organic Cotton Growers Group started the inclusion of dairy as an alternative and stable livelihood program with the investment of Fairtrade Premium amount. The Project captures an inspiring story of Droupadi Banchhor, the wife of Barun Banchhor, a registered farmer of Bansal Organic Grower Group. Droupadi not only sells milk and other dairy products to generate a second source of income but has also built a successful business model.
She along with her husband and 03 children live in Nandul, a small village in the Balangir District of Western Odisha where both were employed for labor work under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, India. Since the work was seasonal, they had to face a lot of diﬃculty in making their ends meet. To support their livelihood and their children’s education they cultivate organic cotton on their 3-acre land, which is totally dependent on rainfall.
With the support of BOGG’s Fairtrade premium project, ‘GODHAN’, Droupadi received two cows which give approximately 12-15 liters of milk in a day. Even after their daily consumption of pure milk, much is left which she sells at Rs 30 per liter just like other women in the village who own cattle. Through the Project, she generates a second source of income for the entire year and inspires many other women in cotton farming.
However, she did not stop there!
She converted adversity into opportunity- She adopted technology!
Digitalization has reached every nook and corner of the country and Droupadi also took advantage of the same. She started watching YouTube videos to learn how to make curd cheese and sweets out of the extra milk. This fetched her better prices than selling raw milk and motivated her to learn more. Soon, she started receiving orders not only from her village but also from nearby villages. To fulfill larger orders, she purchases milk from other women farmers who own cattle, providing them a dependable income. With more funds at her disposal, she is also able to provide a better quality of life to her children now which includes healthier meals and better education.
Necessity is the mother of invention!
Dairy farming is a very proﬁtable business and Droupadi realized its potential when she started selling milk, and other dairy products. Her positive attitude, determination, and courage have led her to success. With positive responses from her customers, she wants to take her dairy business to the next level. There’s no looking back for Droupadi. She is not just sustaining but is able to provide a better life to her children and at the same time, run a successful venture, which may give employment to other women in the near future. We wish all the success to this amazing Dairy woman entrepreneur!