By OUR STAFF REPORTER
DEHRADUN, 5 Jul: During the COVID-19 pandemic, Uttarakhand’s flagship brand, Aanchal Dairy, has achieved a milestone in giving sustainable livelihood to over 50,000 villagers, who were paid Rs 45 crore for supplying milk during the three-month long lockdown.
According to the data released by the state Dairy Development Department, 2 lakh litres of milk were procured, daily, from 2551 village-level cooperatives based in 13 districts till May end, this year.
In Uttarakhand, milk cooperatives have 51,121 members, mostly villagers and farmers, who supply milk and are paid directly by the Aanchal Dairy on monthly basis.
Secretary, Uttarakhand Dairy Development, Dr R Meenakshi Sundaram, said, “Our main focus is on uninterrupted procurement of milk and payments to members of the cooperative members. During the lockdown, all the cooperative members had a regular source of income from supplying milk and the payments were made directly into their bank accounts.”
Every day, the procured milk from the cooperatives is supplied to the Aanchal Dairy for packaging and sale across the state. Dr Sundaram feels that the milk and dairy product start-ups would play a key role in providing sustainable livelihood opportunities to locals in Uttarakhand.
“All the factors– like climate, environment and awareness– in our state, make it a natural hub for the start-ups involved in milk and milk products. Our department has come out with schemes on owning milk production units,” said Dr Sundaram.
It is worth highlighting that, when the COVID-19 outbreak disrupted the supply-chain, it impacted livelihoods of farmers, but members of the milk cooperative had an assured source of income.
At present, the milk cooperatives have 51,121 individual members and the number is likely to grow in the next one year. Of the thirteen districts, Nainital has the highest number (550) of milk cooperatives with 21,320 members and 86,805 litres are collected on the average, daily.
Dehradun has 292 milk cooperatives with 2,538 members, who supplied 17,332 litres of milk daily during the lockdown. Similarly, Haridwar has 252 milk cooperatives with over 2,755 members, who supplied 13,191 litres of milk daily during the lockdown.
Joint Director, Aanchal Dairy, Jaideep Arora, said, “We did not reduce the procurement of milk during the lockdown and used the surplus milk for products like milk powder and white butter.”
Foraying into white butter and milk powder production helped Aanchal Dairy in stocking milk products with greater shelf life. “A hundred tons of white butter will be sold to customers and 200 tons of milk powder will be used in the Anganwadi scheme and mid-day meals in schools across the state,” added Arora.