More than half the quantity of milk procured by Milma in the State comes from the Malabar region. Apart from a congenial climate for rearing cattle, the Malabar region of Milma offers a host of incentives to dairy farmers, which could be emulated by other regions of the cooperative network.
About 5 lakh litres out of the total daily procurement of 9.46 lakh litres of milk is procured from Malabar. There has been a remarkable rise in the procurement in recent years, thanks to the support schemes offered by the regional cooperative, according to George Thomas, coordinator of the ‘Farm Support’ programme.
Help at every stage
The programme offers technical advice and help at every stage from buying cattle to maintaining and marketing. Apart from normal dairy activities, the agency facilitates farm tourism projects.
Setting up of small-scale dairies is the new trend in the sector. Several youngsters have taken up dairy farming as an occupation as it provides an assured income, he says.
Traditional way of rearing one or two cows is slowly disappearing, but a large number of existing milk producers and new entrepreneurs are entering the mini dairy farm sector, seeing the opportunities in the market. On an average, the farm size has grown up from 3-5 to 10-15. The number of such mini dairy farms in Malabar Region has jumped from 616 in 2009 to 3,091 in 2012, according to a study conducted by the region.
Usually, cattle loans bear an interest rate of 13-15 per cent, while car loans are available at lesser rates.
Milma’s Farm Support programme identified NABARD’s Dairy Entrepreneur Development Scheme (DEDS), which provides a subsidy of Rs.1.25 lakh for a loan of Rs.5 lakh. The cooperative promoted it by preparing project reports, tying up with commercial banks.
Mechanisation was promoted to overcome difficulties in getting labour. Farm Support procures dairy farm machinery in bulk and distributes them to farmers at affordable rates. A back-end subsidy is provided to farmers who supply milk to the village dairy cooperative. More than 800 milking machines have been distributed under the scheme. ‘Chaff cutters’ for chopping green fodder, rubber mats for providing comfort to cow and pressure jets to clean cattle sheds are distributed at subsidized rates.
Farm Support also provides financial assistance for mechanisation of dairy farms to the tune of Rs 25,000 per farmer, provided the farmer supplies a minimum quantity of 20 litres of milk per day to any of the Milma societies. The Malabar Milma distributed Rs.109 lakh under the scheme during the last financial year, according to Mr. Thomas.