Bhubaneswar: Identifying dairy farming as a “traditional and trusted” sector, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today said the industry has helped in empowering women in rural areas of the state.

“Income from dairy farming gives some measures of economic independence to our rural women,” Patnaik said here at a workshop on ‘Women Empowerment through Dairying.’

Noting that dairy farming was an important source of income for more than 50 lakh rural families in Odisha, the Chief Minister said it provided employment and income generating opportunities for vulnerable sections of the state’s population.

He said women should be imparted with leadership, entrepreneurship and marketing skills to help them venture into wider and extensive economic activity.

Women not only achieve economic and social independence through such enterprises, but it also helps them to face their social life with more confidence and on equal terms, he said.

Stating that milk production in Odisha had increased from 1.4 million tonnes per annum in 2006-07 to 1.78 million tonnes per annum in 2013-14, Patnaik said this could be possible due to sustained efforts to organise farmers into dairy cooperation.

Under the state agriculture policy, women entrepreneurs are provided with 50 percent capital investment subsidy for dairy farming.

Under operation Flood-II programme, the state owned OMFED (Odisha Milk Federation) organised women dairy cooperatives having all women members and they successfully managed the cooperatives. By June this year, more than 800 women cooperatives are functioning with about 56,000 women members.

On an average, women cooperative societies collect more than 90,000 litres of milk per day while women farmers are getting about Rs 75 crore annually towards the cost of milk, Patnaik said.

With dairy cooperatives and their management committees entirely composed of women members, it has encouraged their participation in managing the day-to-day activities of dairy cooperatives, the chief minister said.

“We must harness the innovative capacity of our women to address the issue of development and empowerment,” he said, and hoped that collaboration with NDDB would foster sustainable dairy development in Odisha.

The workshop was attended by women delegates from six states.

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