News that was highlighted in Goa, last week, was the launch of SUMUL dairy operations in four talukas in the state. SUMUL or Surat District Co-operative Milk Producers Union is a member of Amul- the largest milk co-operative of Asia. Its products are sold under the Amul brand name and are freely available. Sales are through smart Amul retail outlets that are rapidly springing up in different localities.
Launch of dairy operations is big-time progress for SUMUL. It means a step towards forward integration and more money to the Surat based co-operative. It also indicates the opening of our dairy sector to an outside player who will be interacting with local farmers and procuring raw milk from them. The next few years therefore look interesting for dairy industry and who knows perhaps a jump in output that is if SUMUL succeeds in upping production.
Goa’s milk production for sure needs to spurt. The presence of robust tourism and outside population means that consumption is increasing by the day and there is a huge demand-supply mismatch. While aggregate milk production from the village dairy societies and private farms is about 1.50 lakh litre per day, demand is around 4 lakh litre per day. It is a demand-supply gap of about 2.50 lakh litre per day currently. In future the gap is expected to widen as consumption will continue to increase.
Small size of dairy farms, non-availability of quality fodder and general disinclination towards agriculture related activities are some of the problems of local milk production. But farmers concede that while agriculture is a non-remunerative activity, keeping dairy animals is profitable business. The profit margin for a properly run dairy farm with 10-12 animals and supply of own fodder is about 30 per cent. Handsome profits and generous government incentives is the reason why many crop cultivators are interested in keeping cows these days, say farmers.
Ground level check reveals that village societies that supply milk to Goa Dairy have several grievances to make against the co-operative. Common grievance is of indifferent quality of fodder and of overall mismanagement of operations. Another complaint is of low price for high fat content milk. Farmers say that Goa’s Dairy’s low rate is disincentive to high fat milk output and cause of their selling to hotels and private purchases. The Dairy is charged with the lack of professional push due to which the number of co-operatives with Goa Dairy is stagnant, according to farmers. For the last two the co-operatives registered with Goa Dairy are stuck at 175. Its cattle feed plant is running at a loss and managing board members have no connection with dairy activities, allege farmers.
At present Goa Dairy procures about 70,000 litres per day and processes 90,000 litres of milk per day after purchasing 20,000 litres per from the numerous milk societies. It is a quantity that is peaked, according to experts in the field.
Meanwhile among the farmer community the reaction to SUMUL entry is mixed. Farmer Shivanand Bhakre, Sanquelim says that he is waiting for the day when the dairy will come to Bicholim taluka. It will be soon he is certain. Farmers will be really happy to supply to the new player because of better price of milk and cheaper fodder. The inability of Goa Dairy in managing its affairs properly deserves competition, says Bhakre.
Farmer Babu Narari Komarpant, former president, Akhil Gomantak Dudh Utpadak Utkarsh Sanghatana, Canacona, is confused. Nobody is approached us yet and without knowing terms and facilities we do not know whether an unknown dairy is good, he says. The Sanghtana produces about 600 litres of milk and is one of the six societies of Canacona taluka that is in good health. Our 30 year association with Goa Dairy is too strong to make a sudden switch to some other dairy, points out Komarpant. He is also unhappy that nobody consults farmers while making decisions that affect their future.
On the other hand progressive farmer Joseph D’Souza, chairman, D’Souza Biotech has pertinent points to make. Political interference is root cause of Goa Dairy’s problem, says D’Souza. It should have been reined in, he says. D’Souza who is a resident of Saligao reveals that group of farmers from his locality wanted to start a milk co-operative for which they had approached Goa Dairy. Permission to start was held up by the local MLA and the Dairy was helpless in allowing the formation of the co-operative. D’souza adds that it is too early to predict the success of SUMUL although it is good on two crucial counts, viz. higher rate for raw milk and cheaper fodder.
Other dairy farmers point out that with SUMUL could offer stiff competition to Goa Dairy at the retail level because its two brands of milk are cheaper by about Rs two compared to Goa Dairy’s Shakti and Gold brands which sell at Rs 40 per litre and Rs 48 per litre respectively. The fat content of Amul milk however is little lower than Goa Dairy in both the brands.