Meghalaya launched a milk mission to develop community ranches
Meghalaya, which is dependent on other States for its milk requirements, wants to become self-sufficient in milk production by 2022.
The State, which has launched a milk mission, is planning to develop community ranches at the village level and to induct indigenous cattle breeds such as Sahiwal, Gir, Rathi, Red Sindhi and Thaparkar to achieve its goal.
Describing the State’s initiatives over the phone and via email, KN Kumar, Agriculture Production Commissioner and Additional Chief Secretary of Meghalaya, told BusinessLine that the per capita availability of milk in the State is 83 gm a day, much below the national figure of 355 gm.
As per the Livestock Census of 2012, Meghalaya has about a million cattle. Of this, only around 30,000 are milch cows (cross-bred), and they are mostly reared within dairy farming co-operatives. These cows contribute to almost 60 per cent of the total milk production in the State, he said.
Recently, announcing the ₹215-crore Meghalaya Milk Mission 2018-22, Union Minister for Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh had stated that of the 6,449 villages in the State, only 97 had milk co-operatives.
Kumar said community ranches are viable in Meghalaya because of the availability of vast open spaces in the districts.
Stating that cows are free-ranging herd animals by nature, he said the quality of milk goes up if they are allowed to move about freely. Their immunity also goes up if they are allowed to get sufficient exercise by moving around. The provision of veterinary services becomes easier and cheaper when animals are in one location, he said. Apart from this, community ranches will also address the land problems being faced by small and marginal farmers.
The mission stresses on developing indigenous breeds such as Sahiwal, Gir, Rathi, Red Sindhi and Thaparkar. The State wants to provide 10,000 cows to 2,000 farmers under the mission.
Currently, the State depends on dairy brands such as Purabi (from Assam) and Taaza (from Amul) to meet its dairy demand. He hoped that the mission will meet a portion of the demand, which is estimated to be growing at 3 per cent every year.
There are only three district-level milk cooperative unions in the Jaintia Hills, West Garo Hills and East Khasi Hills. “We propose that all the districts will have their own milk unions at the end of the mission. That will take the number to 11 from the existing three,” he said.
Meghalaya’s milk mission also proposes to set up 79 bulk cooler machines (each of 500 litres capacity) at potential milk collection centres, and to procure 13 milk tankers (each of 3,000 litres capacity).