The road to automated milking: How the women of Gadiya Na Timba revolutionised dairy farming and improved their quality of life by utilising automated milking technology from DeLaval

Gadiya Na Timba is a small Village in the state of Gujarat, India. Agriculture is the main occupation for the 35-40 families living there, with dairy farming as a subsidiary. By introducing new milking technologies in regions such as Gadiya Na Timba, DeLaval helped empowering the village’s women to run their own, competitive and sustainable dairy businesses.

The move from hand-milking to bucket-milking in the Indian village has helped the local population double its milk production per animal. The successful development of dairy farming in the area is largely due to a group of women who have been working hard for years to continuously improve their business. Together with DeLaval, the women of Gadiya Na Timba not only changed the status quo, but the villagers’ lives. 

A woman using the DeLaval Bucket Milking System in Gadiya Na Timba, India

”In 2012, we installed 14 DeLaval Bucket Milking Systems (BMS1 and BMS2) under a sponsored project through AMUL dairy. The machines were very easy to use and the DeLaval representatives trained us on their use and maintenance. This really made our lives easier,” says Daxaben Patel, the co-op’s secretary.

According to FAOSTAT, 48% of the world’s working women report agriculture as “their primary source of livelihood.” Women are currently achieving yields that are 20-30% lower than men, largely because they are given fewer resources while being equally as efficient (http://www.fao.org). Helping to bridge this gender gap would increase food production in developing countries by 2.5-4%, and, according to www.farmingfirst.org, “this additional yield could reduce the number of undernourished people in the world by 100-150 million.”

With help of DeLaval, the circumstances of the women of Gadiya Na Timba have already improved significantly. After they took matters into their own hand by starting a co-op business, the women of Gadiya Na Timba now run a profitable milking enterprise, utilising new technologies to improve productivity while decreasing the amount of manual labour necessary to run a dairy business. 

Back in the late 1980’s, farmers from the village used to deliver milk to the neighbouring village’s co-op society, five kilometres away. It added considerable logistic challenges to the local dairy farmers. Still, farmers did not have enough production volume to warrant a separate co-op of their own.

Because of this, the women from the village got together and negotiated a separate collection centre and new co-op from their Milk Union, the Kaira Dist. Co-Op Milk Producers Union Ltd.The women promised to increase the yield to meet the minimum legal requirements for running a co-operative society. The women's co-op was born.

The women of Gadiya Na Timba started producing 120 litres per day with 40 animals and quickly purchased more animals to meet the agreed requirements. They continued to invest in new technologies over the course of three years, increasing production to 1,000 litres of milk per day.

The women of Gadiya Na Timba working together

Daxaben Patel further adds, “Now the women don’t worry about the milking. In addition, they found the automated milking system much faster, reducing the dependency on hand milkers and the physical work much easier. Regarding the milking, there was now no limit to increasing the herd even further.”  

An additional 14 DeLaval Bucket Milking Systems were installed in 2013, based on the initial success.

Today there are 35 dairy farms using DeLaval automated milking systems in the village. The women have also modernised their other farming activities, using chaff cutters and crop protection sprayers, among other technologies and productivity aids. They are now delivering 2,500 litres of milk per day from 400 cows.

Within a few years, the women of Gadiya Na Timba have moved from hand-milking a small number of cows to revolutionising the local dairy industry, and the quality of milk is better because no human hands touch the milk during the DeLaval supported process; the milk is cooled immediately at the collection centre.

”We have proved that dairy farming is one of the best sources of a stable income. Machine-milking has given us the confidence to increase milk production even further and our improved economic conditions mean that we can send our children to higher education, even in the US.”

Indeed, the women have improved their lives and the lives of the villagers in Gadiya Na Timba significantly. Their story is not only a story of economic success, but more so a story of how women in agriculture are important drivers of positive change. According to Farming First, a global coalition for sustainable agricultural development, “empowering and investing in rural women has been shown to significantly increase productivity, reduce hunger and malnutrition and improve rural livelihoods. And not only for women, but for everyone.”

At DeLaval, we believe in sustainable food production as well as equal opportunities, and this story is but one of many proving  that women around the world make vital contributions to agriculture and the world economy as a whole, and for that they deserve our recognition and respect.

To read more stories of dairy farmers from around the world and sustainable dairy farming, visit www.delavalcorporate.com or follow us on Facebook.

For more information on women in agriculture, visit http://www.farmingfirst.org/