Milky business

A mix of high-yeilding cross-bred cows is ushering in the White Revolution in Pulwama district bringing along economic prosperity. Javaid Naikoo reports

The consistent growth in milk production has helped Pulwama to retain the top spot as the highest milk producing district in Kashmir valley.

Apart from meeting the milk requirements of its inhabitants, a large quantity of the produce is sold in other districts and to various milk processing and packaging units who then supply the milk to various districts of the valley.

According to official statistics, milk production in District Pulwama is 488000 liters a day from 141,000 milch cows in the area.

“Ninety-eight per cent cow population in District Pulwama is high yielding cross breed of jersey and Holstein. Now-a-days, the price of a cow of such breed goes up to Rs 90,000”says Dr Rafiq Naqashbandi, Chief Animal Husbandry Officer Pulwama.

There are eighty six small three to five-member cooperatives in Pulwama district which deal in the business apart from cooperatives of other districts which procure milk from the district.

In addition to the 90000 liters of milk consumed locally, 170,000 to 190,000 liters are supplied to Srinagar while 20000 liters are converted in to other milk products daily, say the officials of the Animal Husbandry department Pulwama.

Various milk processing and packaging plants get around 90000 litres of milk from milk producers of Pulwama.

“On daily basis 45-49 thousand liters of milk are supplied to Khyber milk plant, 10-11 thousand liters are supplied to snow cap milk plant, 20-22 thousand liters are supplied to zum-zum milk plant and 10-12 thousand liters are supplied to Noor milk plant,” officials of the department said.

The growing milk business is employing an ever increasing number of people with many young men joining the trade. The male members of the families engaged in the trade usually join the expanding business.

Ghulam Hassan Shergujri, of Washbuga Pulwama is the president of milk dealers association Pulwama. Three of his sons – Shabir, Mushtaq and Tariq – have joined him in the trade and assist in collection and distribution of milk in the area and run a milk shop at Main Chowk Pulwama.

Shabir, besides helping his father in their traditional milk business is the sole distributor for Zum Zum packaged milk for District Pulwama.

“When most of the business units are run on loans carrying interest and getting a government job is like a pipe dream, I feel pleased and am thankful to God that my sons are earning a dignified and Halal living,” Hassan said.

Hassan sells around three thousand liters of milk and makes around five thousand rupees in a day. Though his business is booming he fears that traditional way of selling milk might end in near future

“The establishment of milk processing units in the area and the increasing preference of people for packed milk, curd and for other milk products may end the traditional way of selling milk in Kashmir,” Hassan said.

The processed and packaged milk and milk products are costlier than the ones available at traditional milk shops, he said. “People pay Rs 44 for 800 grams of packaged curd while at a traditional shop you will get it for Rs 24”.

The success of raising milch cows has attracted other people to the diary business. Many people in the area have established big and small diary units, some of them with the help of government assistance.

Ghulam Hussain Draboo of Peerpora- Arihal in Pulwama, recently received the best diary holder award for Kashmir from Union Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar at New Delhi. The award comprises of Rs 21000 cash, a Shawl and a certificate. His self-financed diary unit has 21 cows, among which currently 15 are milk giving. On an average more than 500 liters of milk are produced at the dairy, fetching him more than Rs 10000  a day while the input cost at the unit is Rs 1400 per day.

“Besides milk, the cow dung also fetches good money, though we use it in our orchards only as fertilizers. The earnings are many times hundred more than the input costs provided you are a sincere and dedicated worker,” says Manzoor Ahmad, in charge of the diary unit.

Official say that 15 two-cow units and 10 ten-cow units were established in 2011 in different villages of District Pulwama under the Diary Entrepreneurship Development Scheme.

The milk production in villages of Tikun, Pinglena, Arihal, Bundzoo, Gangoo, Manduin, Nairoo, Lajoora and Malangpora is the highest in the district.

“People of these areas have shown tremendous interest in dairy business and many of them want to join the business, which ultimately is a sign of development,” says Dr Naqashbandi.

However, small dairy farmers say that dealers pay them Rs15-17 per liter of milk while it is sold at Rs22-25 a litre in the market.

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