Thursday, September 27, 2012

White revolution in the east

September 27, 2012

When Anjan Kumar Das, a resident of Subhasnagar village in Bankimnagar panchayat under Jirania block in Tripura's West Tripura district graduated in 1986 with Honours in Political Science from Maharaja Bir Bikram College in Agartala, he could not think of anything else but to get a government job. After wasting several years searching for a job, Mr. Das started his career as a small-time contractor. Despite hard work he could not earn enough. It was in 2002 when officials of the State's Department of Animal Resource Development approached him and other unemployed youth of his village and motivated them to take part in a training programme in Agartala on mini dairy promotion, he started looking at dairy farming as a career option. After undergoing the training, he made up his mind to start his own dairy farm in 2003. He has not looked back since then.

In 2003, Mr. Das took a loan of Rs. two lakh from the Jirania Branch of United Bank of India and bought ten Jersey cows from local markets. Within one year, he repaid the entire loan amount with the profits he had earned. Against this loan amount, NABARD provided an interest subsidy on Rs. one lakh; so he had to pay the bank an amount of Rs. 9,000 as interest in addition to the loan amount.

In the same year, Mr. Das and about 31 dairy farmers were taken by the Animal Resources Development Department to Bihar on an exposure visit to dairy farms in Bihar. "During the trip, I saw exotic Holstein-Friesian cows in a big dairy and decided to buy this breed for my own farm. I took another loan of Rs. three lakh from the bank in 2004 and bought ten Holstein-Friesian breed cows. I have repaid the second loan, too. Then I went to Bihar again twice and bought five Holstein-Friesian breed cows in 2008 and six in 2010 with my own capital and I did not have to take any more bank loan," he says.

Now Mr. Das sells on an average 300 litres of milk every day. Every morning, he sells about 200 litres milk to the Gomati Cooperative Milk Producers' Union Limited for their milk plant at Agartala and every evening, he supplies about 100 litres of milk to local confectioners. The profit earned is not only giving his family comfort of modern living, he has also given employment to ten persons who do various works like taking care of the cows, growing fodder and cleaning among others. He has taken five acres of cultivable land on lease to grow the required fodder. The success story of Mr. Das has motivated several other youth like Shymal Bakshi of Champaknagar village of Jirania block to take to dairy farming. Mr. Bakshi sells about 150 litres of milk every day. There about 20 mini dairies in the block.

Mr. Das says that he earns a profit of Rs. 40,000 every month from his dairy farm. Besides, he also earns additional income from his two trucks that he has bought with profits earned from his dairy business. Over the past nine years, his mud-wall house has been replaced with a RCC house. He got a bike and now plans to buy a car. However, his dream is to become the owner of the biggest dairy farm in Tripura. To realise this dream, Mr. Das now plans to add 25 to 30 more cows and increase the number to 100 within next one or two years.

Managing Director of Gomati Cooperative Milk Producers' Union Limited, Harishankar Chakraborty, feels that Mr. Das' success story is an example that dairy farming can be a remunerative livelihood avenue for rural unemployed youth in Tripura. He, however, says that motivation of the villagers and strong support by various government departments and panchayats were needed to make that happen on a wider scale.

The Cooperative Union, modelled on the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) that markets the Amul brand, has a milk processing plant in Agartala with a capacity to produce 19,000 litres per day and caters to three districts of West Tripura, Gomati and Sipahijala.

In milk production, however, Tripura is still lagging behind and though the total production of milk in the State increased from 76810 MT in 1998 to 110300 MT in 2011-12, the per capita availability of milk is 79 gram/day as against national average of 281 gram (2010-11).
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