Grangan (Punjab), May 12: Dairy farming has become a lucrative business in Punjab as milk marketing turns intensely savvy and includes processing units and cold storage plants.
Dairy farmers are now lured to increase their livestock of cows and buffaloes. They are all set to emulate the Anand experiment of Gujarat and herald another white revolution.
Under the Anand model, Gujarat's rural hinterland became a rich source of milk.
For instance, Harchand Singh of Grangan village of Punjab's newest district on the outskirts of Chandigarh was unemployed till five years back. Then, he took to dairy farming with a herd of 20 cows. Five years down the line, he is the proud owner of 143 cows, of which 60 are of the Jersey variety.
"The job at the dairy is good, but one has to be hard working. Now, dairy farming has replaced conventional farming," said Harchand.
A milk revolution is sweeping across Punjab's rural landscape. The Government has started training programmes in artificial insemination and other areas so that young farmers can take advantage and turn into entrepreneurs.
The government also finalised a plan to encourage commercial dairy farming by extensively using crossbreed cows to make dairying a financially viable proposition for the farmers.
Keeping in view the keenness of farmers in running commercial dairy farms on a large scale, the state would provide loans at cheaper rates from cooperative banks and give technical guidance.
The emphasis has been on the latest trends in dairy farming technology, cleanliness and quality products. All these activities are integrated under the co-operative system of milk marketing co-operative federation, Milk Fed.
These include setting up dairy farms to rear livestock of milch cattle, milk production, collection, preservation and marketing.
"Dairying in India has been basically an ancillary side activity mainly done by small land holders with a few animals. They used milk for their domestic purposes and only the surplus was sold. This traditional system is prevalent, but it has been found that the rate of return of such farmers is low because the cost of production is very high. They have to spend many hours and other overheads are high for three to four animals. So, if the herd size is big, the cost of production of milk goes down substantially. Their income is very high, so we have made it a mission to encourage our small producer to turn into a big producer," said V.K. Singh, Managing Director, Milk Fed.
Cold storage chain management and safety standards are a top priority for the white revolution in Punjab.
Milk collection centres have been set up for farmers who want to supply milk to the cooperatives. They are provided several facilities like, cooling, transportation and marketing.
Thanks to the collective and co-operative initiative of the Milk Fed, the farmers are also planning to export milk products to countries in the Middle East and West.
This drive will get an impetus because of the trend of young milk farmers who are establishing bigger dairy farms.
Agriculture is the mainstay of Punjabs economy and dairy farming is only an ancillary avocation, although it has gained considerable momentum.