Popularity of milk in the plains of N E India is at par with other parts of the country. There is also a positive trend in milk consumption by hill tribes. Unlike in 70’s, dairy farming is now an important farming activity throughout the hill states of the region.
Dairy sector in North East India of late assumes significance from the point of view that the region provides ample opportunity for investment. Guwahati – the gateway to N E India, alone requires an estimated 6 lakh liters of milk against local supply of 1, 25, 000 lit of milk per day. The market for UHT (Ultra Heat Treated) milk is growing exponentially within the region. The production in the states of the region is far below the requirement and unconfirmed report indicates huge interstate import of liquid milk. High consumption of dairy-whitener in the region is also indicative of the fact that locally produced milk is not available to the consumers as per demand. Besides low surplus production at farmers’ end, inadequate marketing infrastructure / milk delivery system is another reason for non-availability. Major cities of the region are chronically suffering from shortage of quality milk. High demand is the root cause for whispered adulteration.
Future of processed milk and other products-based industries in the region appears bright in the light of the Act East Policy of government of India; Free Trade Agreement with ASEAN, Pan Asian Highway etc. These environmental changes will provide a plethora of opportunities for the North Eastern states to interact commercially with international neighbors with whom they share 98% of their borders.
Various Indian dairy companies are chalking out plans to widen their footprints in the North Eastern states, encouraged by the region’s wet climate which is considered favorable for setting up dairy farms and processing units.
Market reports indicate that large organizations both from cooperatives and the private sector are selling skimmed milk powder in the region. These organizations are now planning to expand the offering to include value-added dairy products. As a step towards this, they are looking to forge alliances with local players for procuring milk and selling their branded products. Those already in the region’s markets are looking at expanding capacities. Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), which sells its products under the ‘Amul’ brand, and Hyderabad-based private dairy firm Dodla Dairy are among those preparing to enter North East India market. National Dairy Development Board-backed Mother Dairy and cigarettes-to-consumer goods giant ITC have been selling dairy whiteners within the region. As per news report quoting sources in Amul, the company intends to invest Rs 3,000 crore on expansion and proposes to enter the Assam market through third-party manufacturing arrangement, where the partner will supply milk to processors in Assam and the diary giant will market it.
There is an urgent need to improve the milk production scenario within the region as lower milk availability is a major deterrent for investment in procurement and processing.
The animal resource and production situation in the NER region can be judged from the following tables 1 & 2.
The institutional development and formal milk procurement situation within the states of the north eastern region can be judged from table 3. The sector in all states are dominated by informal milk trading.
The situation regarding infrastructure and milk processing within the reason is very poor and can be judged from the table 4.
Action areas for dairy sector development in North east India
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the challenges facing the sector in all the 8 states of the region. State specific baseline survey and situational analysis is pre-requisite to understand the ground realities.
Following can be suggested as general 10 point action areas for dairy sector development in North East India:
Strengthening of Artificial Insemination (AI) services in notified production clusters with farmer awareness about requirements for success of crossbreeding, support for calf to heifer rearing, skill training of AI workers and campaign for infertility management.
Planned induction of high quality cattle from outside the region, facilitation of inter-state cattle trade for farms and strengthening of government farms as breeding farms to supply good quality heifers to notified clusters and to conserve local cattle and buffalo through selective breeding.
Strengthening of skilling ecosystem and extension campaign for good dairy farming practices e.g. Fodder based scientific feeding, preventive health care, clean /safe milk production etc.
Linking of promoted dairy cooperatives in notified clusters with Animal husbandry department and other private service providers for animal identification, animal data recording, herd health focused veterinary and other related services ( e.g. Insurance, Banking service, Dairy advisory service, Live animal trade, Farm by-product marketing etc.) as per annual contract. The annual contract is needed to ensure timely delivery of adequate, continuous and preventive service.
Support to unique and sustainable farming system (e.g. Khuti in Assam) across the region with indigenous animals to produce branded A2 milk or cottage milk products.
Handholding of informal sector for organized milk handling and partnership for regulatory actions related to agro-climatic zone wise / farming system wise declaration of minimum milk price, quality assurance in term of milk standards, safety of milk and milk products and control of related illegal market practices.
Promotion of private investment through equity funding for breeding operations, commercial farming (including contract farms) and milk processing sector with assistance for improvement in procurement / supply logistics.
Promotion of local processed milk and milk product brand.
Assistance for improving governance of dairy cooperatives and other farmer level organizations. Formation of district / state level federations for scale of operation in milk processing and to build internal capacity for services.
Targeted credit delivery (including working capital support) in notified clusters for enterprises across the dairy value chain.
NB: Some part of this publication are reproduced from a published news item from Economic Times.
External Links on Initiatives in Dairy Sector within North East India
Click Here for Story of Alpine Cheese Spread, Sikkim ( Sikkim Dairy Product Pvt Ltd )
See the Advertisement of YVU Dairy brand of Manipur’s Youth Volunteers’ Union
Click Here to learn more about the story of KARENG: A Product from Sundarpukhuri Milk Cooperative Society, Assam
Click Here for success stories in Bajali Area of Assam
Click Here for Glimpse of initiative of farmer in Bajali area of Assam to produce and market value added milk products
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