To bring horticulture farmers in Kutch into the cooperative dairy network, Sarhad Dairy on Tuesday said it will set up a fruit processing plant in the district at the cost of Rs 50 crore.
“Farmers growing horticulture crops, like pomegranates, dates, mango, etc, are seeing their returns dwindling due to lack of market linkages and absence of a local value addition chain. Therefore, at the annual general meeting of Sarhad Dairy, held on Monday, the Board of Directors of the dairy have decided in principle to set up a fruit processing plant in Kutch. Our estimate is that such a plant for extracting juices, preparing frozen and dehydrated fruit products will cost around Rs 50 crore,” Valamji Humbal, chairman of Sarhad Dairy told The Indian Express on Tuesday. Humbal is also the vice-chairman of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Limited (GCMMF), the dairy federation which markets dairy products under the brand name Amul.
Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Parsottam Rupala, Minister of State for Tourism and Welfare of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes, Vasan Ahir and GCMMF managing director R S Sodhi were also present at the Sarhad Dairy AGM in Anjar.
“As no local value addition chain is taking place, farmers are forced to sell fruits as raw material at a very low cost. Their condition today is comparable to that of dairy farmers before the cooperative dairy model was founded,” Humbal said.
The Sarhad Dairy chairman said they were in consultation with various stakeholders for setting up the plant. “We have been consulting with marketing and technology experts as well as officers of GCMMF for setting up this plant. We are of the belief that such a plant is economically viable and will be of help to farmers. We have land at Chandrani village in Anjar taluka of Kutch for such a plant. But another view is that since processed fruit products of Kutch has the potential of finding an overseas market, such a plant should be set up in Mundra so that port connectivity becomes easy. While Sarhad Dairy will manufacture products, GCMMF will market them,” Humbal added.
Kutch District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Limited, popularly called Sarhad Dairy was set up in 2009 and is one of the member unions of GCMMF. Today, Sarhad Dairy has more than 650 village-level cooperative societies through which it procures around four lakh litre milk per day. It is the only dairy union of the state which procures and sales camel milk. In recent years, after the discovery of groundwater, the semi-arid district has emerged as a major belt of horticulture crops.
Humbal said work was in progress for setting up a second milk processing plant at Chandrani village. “This proposed milk processing plant in Chandrani is likely to cost us around Rs 100 crore. It will have the capacity to process two lakh litres milk per day and can be expanded to four lakh litres per day. Work order has already been issued for its civil work while tenders for machinery and equipment are scheduled to be opened on December 7,” he said.
The Centre has allotted Rs 24 crore for the milk processing plant under its Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and the GCMMF is to give Rs 20 crore grant towards loan interest subvention, the Sarhad Dairy chairman added. “Our plan is to relocate our existing milk processing plant in Lakhond to Chandrani later so that revenue expenditure occurring on account of staff, etc can be reduced,” Humbal said.
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