Economy

Dairy sector to boost employment in J&K

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on August 06, 2019 Published on August 06, 2019

For years, J&K’s dairy sector has been beset by challenges of low remuneration, costly milk production, competition from private dairy players, and farmers losing interest in animal husbandry. Representative image   -  The Hindu

Amul in talks with Jammu & Kashmir Dairy Federation to extend support

The Centre will develop the dairy and animal husbandry sector to create employment opportunities in Jammu & Kashmir.

The roadmap for the same is said to be under preparation. Recently, the head of the country’s largest dairy player, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), which sells Amul brand of dairy products, RS Sodhi met Governor Satya Pal Malik in Srinagar to apprise him of the plans for dairy development in the State.

High-level talks

According to sources in the know, the Governor expressed the desire to strengthen the milk cooperatives in the State. Sodhi, accompanied by the Board of Directors of the Jammu and Kashmir Milk Producers’ Cooperative Ltd (JKMPCL), also met the Chief Secretary of the State BVR Subrahmanyam and expressed the desire to expand the coverage of dairy sector. Amul is said to be extending support in technology, management and procurement systems.

For years, J&K’s dairy sector has been beset by challenges of low remuneration, costly milk production, competition from private dairy players, and farmers losing interest in animal husbandry.

Repeal of Article 370

It is, however, believed that the repeal of Article 370 will put the dairy sector on a fast growth trajectory. “There was no direct impact of the presence of Article 370 on the development of dairy sector. But there could be some benefits following the removal of it, since it will directly come under Centre and there could be more focused approach for dairy and animal husbandry sector. They can look to bring more youth under animal husbandry with increased fund allocation and bring the transformation. One entire level of State government is gone now. So, it will definitely improve things,” Mayank Tiwari, former CEO of JKMPCL, told Businessline.

The Central focus for animal husbandry is evident from the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s budget speech 2019-20 in July, where she said, “We will invest widely in agricultural infrastructure. We will support private entrepreneurship in driving value-addition to farmers’ produce from the field and for those from allied activities... Dairying through cooperatives shall also be encouraged by creating infrastructure for cattle feed manufacturing, milk procurement, processing & marketing.”

Lack of support

Unfortunately, J&K couldn't ride on the dairy development bandwagon after 1970, for want of adequate support from the local governments. For decades, the processing capacities remained idle. It was in 2004, JKMPCL established and formal cooperative dairying began under the guidance from Amul.

However, till now, only two operational processing facilities exist in the State one each in Jammu and Kashmir regions. The Federation’s plant at Chashmeshahi has milk processing capacity of 50,000 litres per day (LPD). JKMPCL procures this milk from about 20,000-25,000 milk producers - mostly women who operate through Self-Help Groups (SHG). The milk is sold in retail under brand 'Snow Cap'. Even as the packaged liquid milk market is concentrated around Srinagar, there is a room for further expansion with value-added products such as cheese, butter, ice cream and paneer.

Empowerment

JKMPCL, which plans to ramp up its capacity to about 5 lakh LPD in the next three years, is also looking to set up two plants for paneer and ice-cream with Central support.

“We are seeing entrepreneurship and leadership skills getting developed in the women of this region. They can build a strong institution if provided support,” said Tiwari.

For the milk production, J&K boasts of unique agro-climatic region - similar to that of the European region. Due to this, some good varieties of cow are able to sustain and deliver the milk yield comparable to that in the European region.

The flush season in J&K differs from that in the other North Indian States. The flush season, when the milk production is at peak, begins after June and peaks till August, while the lean season begins from November to December. As most of the milk production happens through cow only, by communities such as Gujjars of plains and Bakarwals of Valley, there is a greater focus required on breed improvement and development for higher yield, which will effectively bring increased earnings for breeders.

Published on August 06, 2019
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