25 cows. One dream. A simple dairy farmer’s daughter realises her childhood dream of becoming a doctor. Proving yet again the goodness of milk.
Milk is an inseparable ingredient of an average Indian’s diet. For most Indians, the day starts with the morning tea laced with milk. In many urban neighbourhoods, queues form at select spots where milk vans unload crates of milk sachets before day breaks. Few sweets or desserts in India are made without milk. Much of the vegetarian Indian population depend on milk and milk derivatives such as butter, cheese, yoghurt, curd, paneer, lassi, clarified butter (ghee) and ice cream for their daily intake of protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals.
It is no wonder that India is the biggest consumer of milk in the world. In 2012, nearly 128 million tonnes of milk was consumed in India. The rising demand for fresh and packaged dairy products and ethnic dairy specialties is broadening the base of India’s modern dairy sector, which accounts for almost 17 % of India’s expenditure on food. Demand for milk is expected to increase to 155 million tonnes by 2016-17 and 200 million tonnes by 2021-22.
Working hard to meet this demand are the thousands of milk farmers / producers and milk of India. While close to 80 percent of these milk farmers are located in the interiors of India, the biggest markets for milk exist in towns and cities.
Till the 1970s, milk preservation and processing facilities in villages were either absent or limited by capacity constraints, and considerable amount of milk was wasted. This in turn resulted in possible loss of income for milk farmers. Then came the white revolution brought on by Operation Flood, often regarded as one of the world’s largest rural development programs and credited with making India one of the world’s largest producers of milk.
Bringing the farmers under the organized sector of the milk cooperatives has helped standardize milk production in the country and greatly improved the quality of milk that reach our homes. Access to bulk milk coolers and milk processing technologies that convert milk into other dairy products with a longer shelf life have not only reduced losses due to the perish-ability of milk but also opened up new markets for surplus milk production.