Yogi plans 'milk revolution', seeks to make dairy the new cash cow in UP

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath
The BJP’s Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra, being assiduously implemented by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, has set the stage for party's plan to usher in a 'milk revolution' after the clampdown on slaughter houses in the state.

The BJP’s manifesto states, “There will be a milk revolution over the next 5 years in UP. A Dairy Development Fund with a corpus of Rs 15 crore will be set aside for this purpose. With the help of the National Dairy Development Board, one new milk processing plant will be set up for every 4 districts of the state.”

The document further reads, “The illegal trade in milk producing cattle has impeded the development of the dairy industry in the state. A cattle health insurance scheme will be launched for free treatment of cattle of poor families.”

Yogi’s ‘milk revolution’ certainly has great business potential even as a ‘pink revolution’ has unraveled in the state over the last decade and a half. UP’s buffalo meat production has hugely out-performed its milk production over the past decade. Latest NDDB statistics show that while buffalo meat production in the state grew by 253 per cent between 2009 and 2015, milk production increased by only 25 per cent during that period. While these official figures would not include meat production at illegal abattoirs, slaughter figures show that UP was in the middle of a ‘pink revolution’, propelling India’s rise as the world’s largest beef exporter.

In 2009, only 1.71 million buffaloes were killed for meat and hide. By 2015, the number of buffaloes slaughtered touched almost 5.5 million. The milk produced from buffaloes was up 21 per cent during the same period.

The state however fared better than the country on changes in buffalo population. UP’s female buffalo population increased by almost 40 per cent between 2007 and 2012 as compared to the national figure of eight per cent. The population of male buffaloes in the state declined by almost nine per cent. In India, the number of male buffaloes declined by close to 19 per cent during the same period. Male buffaloes form the bulk of cattle sent to slaughter houses.

This is also where Yogi’s ‘milk revolution’ holds promise in a state where the dairy industry is not exactly in crisis but holds great potential for scientific development and employment generation.

“UP is the largest milk producer in India, but Gujarat contributes more than a third of all milk for processing. If UP has to catch up with Gujarat, it would have to set up at least 20 more milk processing plants. More importantly, farmers in UP need an assured market. This can be attained only if the cooperative structure is strengthened in the state” said Dr Ashok Gulati, former member of the now rechristened Planning Commission.  

Though it is the largest milk producing state in India, UP has a disproportionately high number of indigenous cows which produce only a fraction of the milk output of cross-bred and exotic cattle varieties. The state has only one exotic cow for every 15 indigenous ones. An indigenous cow in UP yields only 2.6 kg of milk a day. An exotic one yields almost seven kg a day.

The state fares poorly compared to other high performing states. In Punjab there are eight exotic cows for every indigenous one. Punjab’s dairy industry also manages to extract more milk from the animal than UP. In Punjab, an exotic cow yields almost 11 kg of milk a day while an indigenous one yields almost seven kg a day. Haryana, the other star of India’s milk belt, has almost an equal number of exotic and indigenous breeds. Haryana’s indigenous cows yield more than double the milk than UP’s.

If the BJP fulfils its promise of establishing a milk processing plant in every four districts, the state would need a massive push in increasing the milk yields for cattle. “The quality of fodder in UP is bad. If milk production has to be increased, then there is a need to improve feed quality in the state. Private players are not interested in Eastern UP and Bundelkhand where potential is limited due to small land holdings and poor fodder quality. UP’s milk cooperatives also need to revived” says Dr Pratap Borthal, Principal Scientist at the National Institute of Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NIAP)

And there could be tremendous business opportunities in store if the state manages to achieve that.

An October 2016 Nielsen study found that only four per cent of Indians preferred dairy-based beverages while there was an overwhelming preference for carbonated soft drinks. But the icing on the cake was that dairy-based beverages were the fastest growing category, exhibiting a growth rate of 15 per cent between 2014 and 2016. Soft drinks grew by just three per cent during that period. By the look of it, Indians' appetite for processed milk products is poised for strong growth.

According to eFresh, an online agriculture database and marketplace, there are 40 diary units in UP including cooperatives, multinationals, state-owned firms and medium-sized diaries. Maharashtra’s milk output is just a third of UP’s, but the state has 108 diary units.

But the clampdown on illegal slaughter houses in the state has created doubts in the minds of farmers, who now have no avenues to monetise their cattle nearing the end of their productive life. “There was complete anarchy in UP. I see nothing wrong with the UP chief minister shutting down illegal abattoirs. He is just implementing the law which was not being done before. The mushrooming of gaushalas (cow shelters) for roaming cattle is also a welcome move. Urine, dung and milk can be used from such animals which adds value to the cow produce value chain. Gaushalas are like old age homes which allow the animal to be productive till it is alive. If your parents become old, do you cull them?” asks Dr Gulati. 

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