How cooperatives are carving space for dairy farming in state economies | Noida News – Times of India

GREATER NOIDA: “Milk with mines” – is the motto followed by Medha, the milk producers’ cooperative that has helped thousands in Jharkhand branch out into jobs beyond mining and traditional farming.
Introduced by the state government in 2014, Medha Cooperative Milk Federation’s aim was to scale up dairy business in Jharkhand, the state known for its minerals, and in turn, give its tribal population more employment opportunities.
“We gave the motto ‘milk with mines’ to strive for coexistence. Mines generate revenue in the state, and nutritional milk supports livelihoods,” said Sudhir Kumar Singh, managing director of the cooperative.
Goroti Kugur (58) is among the 40,000 dairy farmers who contribute Rs 1.5 lakh litres of milk daily to the cooperative.
Her husband is a farmer and she, a dairy farmer . She joined the cooperative soon after its network of pooling milk opened up. In less than a decade, her dairy farm in Ranchi has been expanded to 10 cattle – from the lone cow she had earlier.
“The dairy farming business involves less labour compared to agriculture, and I get paid weekly for the milk I supply at the collection centers,” she told TOI at the ongoing World Dairy Summit in Greater Noida. With monthly earnings up to Rs 30,000, Kugur managed to fund the education of her three daughters; her son had joined the Indian Army and died during a gun battle in 2017.
The cooperative has been able to grow its operations over the years due to multiple reasons, among them digitisation of the milk collection process and its focus on cattle health, officials say.
“Medha has 638 automatic computerised milk weighing and testing systems in villages. Since farmers are paid as per the quality of their milk produce, we encourage them to take better care of their animals through proper nutrition and balanced cattle feed. For this, we also provide them with cattle food that helps them enhance the overall health of the cattle, and increase milk production,” the managing director said.
More recently, the cooperative has also started studying cattle breeds.
The “desi” cow – which makes up 90% of the state’s cattle population — produces nutritious milk, but its daily capacity is 1.5 litres a day. Others like Gir and Sahiwal are capable of producing 12-18 litres of milk every day, officials said, adding that they are also looking at other packaged dairy products to introduce into the market.
Expanding across states
What Medha is to Jharkhand, Sudha is to Bihar. The state milk cooperative has a network of 17 lakh dairy farmers who supply 20 lakh litres of milk from across 27,000 villages every day.
At the summit this week, Vijay Kumar, a dairy farmer from Madhuban, declared emphatically: “there is no better business than this”.
“The cooperative helped us take quality milk to children, women and the elderly… it expanded our horizon, and our participation at the summit affirms our belief that the industry will be relevant for many years to come,” the 41-year-old who joined Sudha in 2010 said.
Having made its mark in Bihar, Sudha is now planning an expansion to other states.
“We want to start operations in Jharkhand, Assam, Delhi, Haryana, and parts of Rajasthan and UP. But a major challenge in growing is preserving the quality of the milk. In the case of cooperatives, the biggest factor of trust is quality control. Once we expand to other states, the involvement of third parties can damage our credibility if there are any quality related issues,” said Manjay Kumar Singh, the marketing head of Sudha. Until they iron out these concerns, the cooperative is also looking to increase its product base to chocolates, cookies, packaged sweets and ghee.
Ahead of its time
One of the oldest success stories in India is that of Saras – a Rajasthan-based dairy cooperative established in 1977 (three decades after Amul, still).
It is now made up of around 17,000 cooperative societies, of which 7,812 – or 45% – are those led by women. Together, they sell about 28.8 lakh litres of milk daily, and last year (2021-22), their combined revenue was Rs 4,090 crore. While many cooperatives and companies more recently began to think about cross-breeding to improve production, the state had established its own bank of frozen cattle semen in Jaipur and Jodhpur the same year that Saras was born. Officials say this bank, which currently has 121 cattle under its care, has been instrumental for the state’s dairy farmers.
Dr, Santosh Kumar Sharma, a veterinary doctor at the bank, said, “There was an inclination to improve production from indigenous breeds rather than promoting the foreign ones. Around 8-10 lakh calves born in the state every year are bred from the bank established under the Rajasthan cooperative. The government is also thinking about helping other states.”

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