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Friday, January 28, 2022

Pune co-op’s venture with NGO shows how dairy business can be more than just milk

Instead of just milk, this joint venture promotes commercial usage of cow dung and urine which can be an added source of income for the farmers.

Written by Parthasarathi Biswas | Pune |
Updated: January 16, 2022 1:08:08 am
Indian or desi animals, though sturdy, are not preferred by the farmers given the lower milk yields. | File

A JOINT venture between the Pune District Cooperative Milk Union (Katraj Dairy) and Ved Vasudev Prathisthan promises to throw some solutions to dairy farmers’ problems with local animals.

Instead of just milk, this joint venture promotes commercial usage of cow dung and urine which can be an added source of income for the farmers.

Indian or desi animals, though sturdy, are not preferred by the farmers given the lower milk yields. While the milk of these animals is supposed to be superior to mixed or hybrid cows, lack of marketing strategies have often impaired the farmers’ income.

Over the years, domestic cattle breeds like Gir, Tharparkar, Deoni and Sahiwal have dwindled in numbers. Absence of proper genetic material is also a problem for desi breeds.

Hemant Joshi, manager of the project, said they wish to push a holistic usage of the desi animal. “Instead of just milk, the animal can offer a good alternative to the farmer through the usage of dung and urine. Cow dung is the best source of organic carbon and in the absence of cows, farmers resort to buying the same for field preparation. Our project is to help in the development and promotion of these animals,” he said.

The joint venture, which came into effect towards the end of 2018, saw the Katraj Dairy setting up the shed in its land while the overall management and animals were brought in by the Prathisthan. Joshi said the first few Gir animals came from border areas of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Currently, the Srimad Vasudev Goshala (the name of the cow shed) has 63 animals.

What makes this Goshala unique is that they use the dung and urine of the animals to fashion 16 products. From shampoos to floor cleaners, to dung cakes and incense – the Goshala has managed to make many items out of the refuse of the animals. On an average, the shed collects around 150-200 kg of dung which is used for many things.

“Small biscuits, round cakes and incense are made from the dung. The urine is used in many applications,” he said.

Covid and the lockdowns had put the brakes on proper reach out campaigns but at present all the products are sold in the outlets of Katraj Dairy.

The demand of these products in urban and semi urban areas is good but more efforts need to be done to reach out to customers. Powdered dung dried and powdered under the hooves of the animals is an excellent fertilizer which can be marketed also.

“Our aim is to show how the dairy business can be more than just milk,” he said.

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