Express News Service
PUNJAB: Punjab produces 6.7 per cent of India’s total milk and has per capita availability of 1,181 grams of milk per day, the highest in the country. More than 3.5 lakh dairy farmers in the state are attached to the Punjab State Cooperative’s Milk Producers Federation (Milkfed). The federation procures between 13 lakh to 27 lakh litres of milk daily depending on the season.
The federation works in a three-tier system as it has a strong network of 6,474 milk producers’ cooperative societies at village level, milk unions at the district level and milk federation at the state level. Milk is procured twice a day through village-level societies directly, without intermediaries.
Milkfed managing director Kamaldeep Singh Sangha, a former bureaucrat with extensive experience in cooperatives, says increasing the productivity of animals and decreasing the cost of production is a key to dairy farmers making profits. “Breed improvement of milch cattle is a must to enhance the number of female cattle and reduce stray animals,” says Sangha. “We have started providing high quality sex-sorted semen of high pedigree bulls to our milk producers to ensure female calves are produced in 90 per cent pregnancies,” he said.
“For the intensive breed improvement of Murrah buffaloes and Sahiwal cows, the best semen available in the country is being provided to the milk producers. At present, we produce 3.5 lakh doses per year of high genetic merit semen and provide all Artificial Insemination (AI) services through our own network of 1,000 artificial insemination technicians provided with unique IDs deployed across the state,’’ said Sangha. To ensure quality and transparency, automatic milk collection units along with raw milk analyzers have been installed for the instant testing of milk and to provide on-the-spot slip depicting milk quantity, fat, SNF and milk payment details to milk producers. “We stood by our milk producers and procured 16 per cent more milk in 2020-21. Even our procurement is up by 14 per cent than last year.”
“We are now setting up an ultra heat treatment milk plant at Bassi Pathana which will be operational next month. The sale of UHT milk (with a six-month shelf life) went up by 87 per cent last year and this had seen a further increase of 53 per cent over and above the same period last year,” says Sangha, adding the pouch milk sale increased by 13 per cent, curd sales by 45 per cent, lassi by 24 per cent, kheer by 35 per cent and ice cream by 75 per cent up to September compared to 2020.
“We are adding new products such as mozzarella cheese and yogurt,” he said. Progressive Dairy Farmers Association chief Daljit Singh says, “Punjab government should also step in so that farmers get better milk rates, as production cost has gone up due to high prices of cattle feed,’’ said Singh.
Milkfed is making concerted efforts to strengthen the dairy sector for better production and quality of milk, and reasonable cost of production. This will enable the farmers to earn sustainable livelihood. Milk is procured twice a day through village-level societies directly, without any intermediaries. Milkfed also plans to introduce embryo transfer technology for shifting sex-sorted embryos of elite germplasm in normal female animals with good health status to produce healthier animals.