Producing milk is common in Indian societies because of the availability of cows, but for the poor women it is not often easy. Nevertheless, Women’s Development Programme took a ground-breaking initiative to bring the benefit of producing milk as well making Mozzarella Cheese to the rural poor women. When it was found that the women of Milk and Mozzarella Cheese Production Unit were capable of producing ample amount milk and supplying to the local market, Dr. Brahmochary thought of taking this success further. When he discussed the matter with the Italian Consulate General, the idea of making and selling of Mozzarella cheese emerged. To their request, the owner of Fire and Ice Restaurants,a chain of Italian Restaurants, helped to arrange an training on Mozzarella cheese making to two young men of IIMC’s working area, and they passed on the skill to the women of Milk and Mozzarella Cheese Production Unit.
The cheese making skill of the women brings a huge economic benefit to their group. They presently produce quality Mozzarella cheese and earn an income supplying to local market. But they earn more incomeby supplying the cheese to Fire and Ice Restaurants following a long term agreement. To meet daily requirement, 100 women supply more than 100 litres milk from their cows, which they bought borrowing money from IIMC’s Micro Credit Bank, to the cheese making factory. The cheese making women maintain the high standard of quality using 10 litres pure milk to make 1 kiloMozzarella cheese, and their demand is increasing. And the women’s income has also increased: while they earn Rs. 10.00 selling 1 litre in local market, they earn Rs. 16.00 selling 1 litre to the Fire and Ice Restaurants. This progress in income of the women has a positive impact on their families.
The unit is located in Hogolkuria, next to the Hogolkuria outdoor clinic and IIMC School. Initially, the Fire & Ice staff has trained two workers, who then passed the knowledge to the rest of the staff involved in the production . The project is strongly integrated with the Microcredit programme: the women that supply milk every day to the unit buy cows through a micro loan provided by an IIMC Microcredit Bank. The women easily refund the loan by selling milk to the Cheese Production Unit. This fair trade policy helps the women to refund their loans quickly and start saving. This has a huge impact on their financial situation and strongly improves their families’ conditions.