With Karnataka having an ambitious target of doubling milk production in the next few years, dairy farming is set to receive a boost at the agribusiness meet.
The State is the second largest producer of milk in the cooperative sector after Gujarat, and the daily procurement by the Karnataka Milk Federation is about 46 lakh litres.
The federation has set an ambitious target to reach 65 lakh litres a day by 2015 and 1.07 crore litres by 2020.
It is estimated that the total daily milk production, including that in the cooperative sector, isaround 1.2 crore litres a day, and further investments in the sector couldboost milk production in Karnataka.
'Milk surplus' State
Since the mid-1970s when the World Bank-aided project came to Karnataka for increasing milk production and subsequent formation of the KMF in the early 1980s, Karnataka has always been a “milk surplus” State throughout the year.
Not only has the federation served its loyal customers here throughout the last three decades, it has also come to the rescue of “milk deficit” States in the country.
Karnataka has been supplying quality milk to Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry.
And, it has been supporting the Delhi Mother Dairy scheme. Milk from KMF has been sent even to States such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa.
AMUL, the market leader in the dairy industry, buys skimmed milk powder and butter from KMF, proving the quality of milk produced here.
According to KMF Managing Director A.S. Premnath, the federation is gearing up to add more infrastructure to reach its ambitious target, and also introducing farmers welfare schemes that could help the State increase its milk output. “We are growing at 10 per cent rate,” he added.
With a history of producing quality milk coupled with a salubrious climate that has helped the dairy sector, Karnataka could attract investments in the dairy sector. Though KMF commands a dominating position in milk procurement, the private sector can play a role too. At present, just over 10 lakh litres of milk are being procured by a host of private dairies that are operating in the border areas such as Kolar, Belgaum and Bijapur.
Increasing production of milk is also expected to bring financial benefits to the more than 20 lakh dairy farmers, including about six lakh women, involved in dairying.
These are the farmers reaping benefits of the schemes and programmes of the KMF. An additional investment could bring in more dairy farmers to the fore.
The agribusiness meet is being held at a time when several educated youth are turning towards dairy farming.
“In the recent times, we have seen several educated and foreign returned youth investing in dairy farming in the State. They have invested in mechanised farming techniques, which is a welcome trend,” Mr. Premnath said.
He said that KMF has invested in creation of cattle feed centre, fodder programme, veterinary services, nutrition to calves and breeding activities.
He said that dairy farmers from North India have been coming to Bangalore in the recent times to purchase calves, as the Jersey and HS breeds popularised by KMF are among the most sought-after breeds.
Experts feel that fresh investments in the sector should not affect the functioning of the KMF, which, through its district co-operative societies, has been rendering service to both farmers and customers.
While farmers here are among the highest paid in the country, the cost of a litre of milk in Karnataka is among the lowest.
This trend should not change even with the entry of the private sector, they say.