The Telegraph
Monday , June 2 , 2014
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Milk cities on the anvil

Ranchi, June 1: Model milk cities equipped with all modern facilities for dairy farmers may soon come up across Jharkhand.

State animal husbandry and fisheries minister Mannan Mallik today directed his department’s secretary Aditya Swaroop to work out modalities in this regard and present him a plan at the earliest.

“The dairy sector has not made any satisfactory progress in the last 14 years in Jharkhand. My predecessors in the department and officials have not done much to boost the sector. Just go and see the conditions under which dairy farmers live without any basic amenities. Though we netas (politicians) still manage to enter their shanties during elections to beg for votes, bureaucrats never venture into such areas. Hence, I propose to come up with a model milk city in every district,” said the minister, asking the department secretary to start work on it.

He was speaking at the inaugural session of a two-day national seminar on “extension and technological innovation for strengthening smallholder dairy farming” organised by the state dairy development department on World Milk Day at a Ranchi hotel today.

A senior Congress leader, Mallik said his proposal, if materialised, would usher in achche din (good times) for both the beleaguered dairy sector and farmers engaged in it. Though the concept of proposed milk cities is yet to take any formal shape, the minister tentatively laid out some features that would be incorporated. “Dairy farmers are scattered today. We need to bring them at one place by building customised colonies for them. The model milk cities will have all the amenities to support their profession and livelihood,” he said.

Elaborating further on the idea, he said farmers would get everything from proper water and power supplies, cowsheds to fodder and grasslands, to boost production.

The minister added cows played a bigger role in human beings’ lives than their own mothers. “A mother feeds her child milk for a year or two after the birth, but cows feed us with milk throughout our lives. We need to think about them like we do about our own mothers.”

The two-day programme is focusing on convergence of inclusive technology in dairy production. “We are number one in the world in terms of milk production with an annual capacity of 132 million tonnes. The challenge, however, is to sustain it in times of changing climate, decreasing grasslands, diminishing farmer base etc.,” said V. Venkat Subramaniam, ADG of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi.

The department secretary, Swaroop, who is also in the rank of additional chief secretary, said Jharkhand produced only around 1,650 metric tonnes of milk per year, against an annual demand of 30 lakh metric tonnes. Also, compared to the national per day per person consumption rate of 290gm, people in the state have access to only 170gm.

“There is an immense scope and need for dairy development. We hope this seminar would help us prepare our vision documents. We have recently signed an agreement with NDDB for five years and they will begin their work soon,” he said.