Special Correspondent

Fresh milk in bottles will be delivered at home under ‘Ksheerasree’ project

5,000 dairy farmers in district will get two cows each

Daily production will increase by 1 lakh litres

Thiruvananthapuram: Citizens in the city and suburbs may soon be waking up to the clink of milk bottles brought to the doorstep by a vendor. An integrated dairy development project to be launched by the district panchayat this month will see vendors supplying farm fresh milk in sealed bottles.

As many as 5,000 dairy farmers across the district will be provided with hybrid species of high-yielding milch cattle, under the project to be implemented in association with the Kudumbasree Mission. Named Ksheerasree, the scheme is designed to supplement the daily milk production in the district by one lakh litres, which works out to 50 per cent of the demand-supply gap. It will be implemented in 50 grama panchayats with the support of the departments of Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development.

Milking machines

The project seeks to establish an independent supply chain extending from the dairy farmer to the consumer. It also proposes the acquisition of milking machines to address the acute shortage of milking men. Each dairy farmer will be given two cows. The animals are to be brought from other States.

The daily production of milk in the district is 4.53 lakh litres against a requirement of 6.4 lakh litres. The gap is plugged by importing milk from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

A study by the Animal Husbandry Department revealed that the dairy sector in the district was constrained by the decline in cattle population and productivity. Escalating cost of production, mainly due to high price of inputs like cattle feed, fodder and hay, too was a factor. Non-availability of hybrid cattle, high infertility rate among cows and lack of equipment like milking machines were identified as serious handicaps. Local species of cows were found to be vulnerable to various diseases.

Breeding policy

The department is also planning a scientific breeding policy with facilities for artificial insemination. It has chalked out a plan to promote backyard cultivation of azolla algae that can be used to supplement cattle feed. Moves are on to set up 1,500 biogas plants using the byproducts generated by the dairy units. Cow dung will also be marketed as manure.

Only those panchayats with at least 40 acres of land under fodder cultivation will be eligible for the project. The beneficiary families are expected to have two acres of fodder farm.

The block panchayats involved in the project will be encouraged to set up 25 cattle feed units with locally and seasonally available materials like jackfruit, tapioca, banana waste, coconut leaves, acacia and bran.

Generating jobs

According to Kudumbasree district mission coordinator, L. Ravikumar, 500 youth will be imparted training in milking and marketing. The youth will be equipped with portable milking machines and mopeds to distribute milk bottles. They will sport uniforms and identity cards. The project is expected to generate 5,000 man days every year. As many as 1,050 persons will be find permanent employment.

District Panchayat president Anavoor Nagappan said the sterilised and sealed bottles would carry information about the dairy unit to ensure traceability to source. He said the milk would be procured from farmers at Rs.18 per litre and sold to customers at Rs.22. Twenty-five field workers would be equipped to establish a link between veterinary hospitals and Ksheerasree farmers.

Value-added products

The manufacturing and marketing of value-added products like curd, ghee, buttermilk, paneer and flavoured milk will be taken up in the second phase of Ksheerasree, depending on the surplus situation.

The project cost of Rs.45.4 crore will be shared by the district panchayat, Kudumbasree Mission and beneficiaries. The district panchayat will foot 50 per cent of the insurance cost for the cows. Thousand units are to be set up in the first phase while 4,000 units will be established in the two subsequent phases. Mr. Nagappan said the project was being primed for launch in July.