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With plans to upgrade Verka,Punjab hopes for second white revolution

Govt efforts get a boost with NABARD deciding to increase credit for dairy sector

Written by Amrita Chaudhry | Ludhiana |
August 31, 2012 3:20:59 am

Witnessing a stagnation in agriculture,Punjab has decided to focus on the dairy industry. Having formulated a modernisation plan for its milk plants,the state has already started describing its efforts as the Second White Revolution. The government’s efforts are being helped by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD),which has launched a scheme to increase credit for dairy farmers. The two cattle feed producing plants — one at Khanna and the other at Gurdaspur — will be upgraded too,in order to increase their production from 300 tonnes to 500 tonnes per day.

The state government’s modernisation plan has taken off from Verka milk plant located close to Amritsar. A sum of Rs 150 crore will be pumped into the plant over three years,latest technology will be used to produce powdered milk and improve refrigeration process. Besides,the Mohali milk plant is also under the process of enhancing its capacity from 3 lakh litres to 5 lakh litres a day. MILKFED,the agency under which milk plants operate,has roped in the National Dairy Development Board that has provided a loan of

Rs 40 crore to the Mohali plant for its upgradation.

Punjab has nine milk plants,and the Union Territory of Chandigarh has one. Besides Ludhiana,Mohali and Amritsar,plants are also located at Jalandhar,Patiala,Hoshiarpur,Gurdaspur,Sangrur and Bathinda.

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MILKFED or the Punjab State Cooperative Milk Producers Federation has 3.91 lakh members who supply 11 lakh litres of milk to these plants daily. The plants use this milk to also produce cheese,khoya,butter,cream,kulfi,milk powder,ghee etc.

Says MILKFED Chairman B S Sidhu: “Often,farmers are asked to diversify from the rice-wheat rotation which is costing Punjab its ecology and stagnating the income of farmers. However,the options given for diversification have never been lucrative enough for the farmers to give up sowing paddy and wheat,which gives them an assured income. Dairy is one sector where even a small farmer stands to gain.”

Taking dairy farmers,milk plants,self help groups,research institutes and the private sector on board,NABARD has launched an area-based scheme expecting to increase bank credit five times to the tune of Rs 300 crore this year as compared to Rs 60 crore last year. Nalin K Rai,Deputy District Manager,NABARD,informed: “Ludhiana is the first district to start this scheme. It will be soon launched in Jalandhar and Roopnagar districts.” To ensure success of the scheme,a committee,headed by Principal Secretary with members from animal husbandry,dairy development and fisheries departments,will monitor it at the state level. At the district level,it will be monitored under a committee headed by additional deputy commissioner.

Chief General Manager of NABARD Krishan Jindal said the scheme will especially benefit small and medium dairy farmers. “We are going to provide loan up to Rs 4 lakh without any collateral security. To ensure that banks get back their money,joint liability groups will be formed. These will act as social pressure groups if anyone attempts to default,” he said.

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