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Dairy needs tech infusion & strategies to boost export presence: Experts
Friday, 24 July, 2020, 13 : 00 PM [IST]
Our Bureau, Bengaluru
India dairy industry needs to adopt technology and also work out ways to enhance its export footprint with its range of processed milk products. This is even as the country is the largest producer of milk in the world at 187 metric tonne with a 22 per cent global share. But the sector indicates a miniscule share of 0.5 per cent in exports.

At a FICCI virtual event on Development of Indian Dairy Sector, Atul Chaturvedi, Secretary, Animal Husbandry & Dairying, Government of India, and a panel of experts highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the sector. Dilip Chenoy, secretary-general, FICCI, who set the tempo for the webinar called to improve milk production for doubling farmers' income and enable entrepreneurship in value-added products which could stall much of the pandemic impact on the sector.

Stating that Indian dairy is the lifeline of the economy, Mohit Bhasin, partner, KPMG India, noted that even during the lockdown, milk supply continued to be up and running ensuring the earnings and livelihood of farmers were intact.

According to Dr R S Sodhi, managing director, GCMMF (Amul), dairy farming needs to be contemporary in the country to woo the younger generation in taking it up as a lucrative career opportunity. There is immense scope for milk processing, cattle feed and breeding to transform the landscape of the sector.

Siraj Hussain, former secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, noted that the capacity created by private dairies in the last 20 years is more than the capacity set up by the cooperatives in over 30 years. The biggest component of India’s dairy market is liquid milk, flowed by products like khoa, chhana and paneer and ghee. Broadly the coverage of organised private dairy in the country is 10.2%, while the organised cooperative sector accounts for 10.3% of total milk production.

Ranjith Mukundan, CEO & co-founder at Stellapps Technologies, said, “Milk is an immunity booster and an antidote to the Corona virus disease. The Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing nationwide lockdown saw only two businesses function: chemist outlets and dairy parlours. However, the sector needed technology adoption in the areas of quality and traceability. Innovation is much desired in dairy supply chain where use of technology across collection and chilling will make a big difference. Traceability processes are to be out in place. Dairy farming from a backyard hobby should be brought to the forefront with exposure to tech-led and data-driven interventions. The use of blockchain would bring in the much-needed transparency to the sector.”

Dr Prashant Shinde, commercial director, dairy feed business, Cargill India, pointed out that the key priority areas for the sector are to reduce its volatility of milk prices. There is need for digitisation and analytics which would allow record keeping on the progress of dairy farms. Together with farmer education, emphasis on calf management and feed in the silos to expand from mere corn based husks to wheat, sugarcane and grain will provide new growth and job avenues.

Noting the need to unlock the potential of VADP (value added dairy products), Chaturvedi said that while there are productivity challenges, there is a need to have a roadmap for 2025. “We need to achieve disease-free milk animals and improve breeds. Only market growth will open up promising investment opportunities.”
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