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Milking your way to success

The demand for professionals specialising in dairy technology is spilling over. Rahat Bano reports

education Updated: Apr 24, 2012 16:50 IST
Raha Bano

The appetite of the Indian is growing. Today, he's not just thirsting for plain old milk, but also demanding a fair share of a virtual smorgasbord of butters, curds, yoghurts, cheeses, ice creams, coffees and what have you. Official data shows urban dwellers spend more on milk and dairy products than they did till a decade ago. A new dairy pops up in the country every day, says Dr. J V Parekh, a Mumbai-based technical consultant to the dairy and food industry.

Government data from 1999 to 2008 shows India's milk yield is going up at a rate of four per cent annually - 110 million tonnes a year. The Centre wants to enhance the output of milch animals as well as the per capita availability of milk, which was up from 178 gm a day in 1991-92 to 252 gm in 2007-08. (Yet, according to a 2006 government report, the per capita availability of milk remained lower than the world average of 267gm a day.) "By 2010, a lot of investment will come from the Central government and the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB)," says Parekh. Milk societies will number 1,30,000 from the current 85,000, he adds. A lot of automation is taking place in the industry. "Ninety per cent of dairy plants will be ISO-22000-certified by 2010. So we'll have ultra-modern facilities," says Parekh.

The NDDB's Perspective 2010 talks of, among other strategies, boosting milk production in cows and buffaloes. The strategy for meeting 2010 goals also includes, "Consolidation and growth in milk and milk product marketing, promoting better equity for regional cooperative brands and developing qualified and skilled manpower," and expanding and strengthening "education of producer members, opinion leaders and trained professionals." However, these are still just targets and the market scenario is changing due to various factors.

Whether Indian or international, more companies would require trained professionals. "When we start, from production, transportation, procurement, packaging, storage, quality checks, maintaining records, qualified people are required," points out Parekh.

Dr G R Patil, Joint Director (Academic), National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, says there's demand for people with all types of specialisation, particularly dairy chemistry, technology and microbiology. In addition to dairies, you can work in food processing or equipment manufacturing companies, and consultancies. Else, set up your dairy or milk products unit or become a franchise for a larger organisation for processing or packing of products.

Divya Narasimhan, research and development executive with a coffee chain in Bangalore, adds, "There are so many areas you can contribute to - product specialisation, R&D, quality assurance, business development, and so on."

The industry has a lot of potential to realise and it's up to it to rise to the challenges of a globalised world. S. Daljit Singh, President, Progressive Dairy Farmers' Association, Punjab, says, "Diversification of agriculture with dairy can be achieved by increasing the profitability of the dairy sector which would require more milk plants, efficient utilisation of installed capacities and converting higher proportion of milk into high value milk products. The dairy industry in the country is gearing up to meet this challenge and would require a large number of dairy technology graduates and postgraduates."

Adds V K Taneja, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary & Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana, "Future prospects in this field are very bright. After achieving the first rank in milk production in the world, the prime focus of the Indian diary industry is to improve the quality and safety of milk products to harness the export potential under stiff international competition. This would require properly trained and qualified manpower with adequate knowledge not only of milk procurement and processing but also of international marketing strategies."

Career: Dairy Specialist

What's it about?
A dairy operation involves production and/or processing, procurement, packaging, storage, quality assurance, transportation, distribution, business/ vendor development, and R&D. The modern industry requires professionals in traditional dairy science and technology as well as in business, economics, and management. You could start as supervisor or sometimes plant manager

Institutes & URLs
National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal
www.ndri.res.in
SMC College of Dairy Science, Anand
http://www.aau.in/english/mcd/index.asp
Dairy Science College, Bangalore
http://www.kvafsu.kar.nic.in/Dairy%20College.htm
IIT Kharagpur

Pros & Cons
India is the world's largest milk producer

Growing and expanding sector.

Being an FMCG sector, the impact of recession, if any, is negligible

It's not a high-paying industry.

Monotonous work

Shift jobs (for instance: 6 am-2 pm; 2-10 pm; 10 pm-6am; there's a usual general shift as well - 9.30 am-6 pm

Work force management is required, so physical work involved

Job security in cooperative sector, not much in the private sector, says Tej Bhan Thairani, CEO, Kurukshetra & Karnal Co-operative Milk Producers' Union Ltd

Mostly fixed promotion in the government set-up. However, performance-based promotion options are always there in MNCs/ private sector

Skills
You should be technologically savvy

Have a scientific temper

Love and affection for animals

Loads of patience to work with the livestock

Perseverance

Options
Jobs exist in private as well as in the cooperative sector (dairy and allied fields)

Join the dairy industry as in-charge / executive in production, quality control, R&D, procurement, or vendor development

Avenues include food and confectionary companies like ITC, Britannia, McDonald's, Nirula's, Parle, etc

The pharmaceutical sector, especially for health powders and health drinks; marketing, IT sector, rural banking, etc

There is great demand for dairy technology graduates in countries like the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and in the Middle East

Clock work
An average day of a unit head:

5 am: Get up
7 am: Go for field duty, meet farmers, inspect milk-chilling plants
11 am-5 pm: Work at office

Dairy plants have different shifts, each of usually seven-eight hours

How do i get there?
You need to take up science - physics, chemistry, maths and/or biology and/or English - at the plus two level. Generally, entry is through a test. Earn a Bachelor's degree in dairy science and technology or engineering. A Master's degree may help more.

The Payoff
Supervisor (entry-level): Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 a month
Private sector: Rs 16,000 to Rs 50,000 a month
CEO in a co-operative: Rs 45,000 to Rs 50,000 a month
Corporates pay almost double, says Dr. J V Parekh, a Mumbai-based technical consultant to the dairy and food industry. It's learnt that a private conglomerate signed up a CEO for Rs 54 lakh a year.

(With inputs from Jayanta Goswami)

'Even in the recession, this sector is least affected'

An industry insider says there's great scope for growth in the dairy business. The future of professionals in the dairy sector is very bright, says Tej Bhan Thairani, CEO, Kurukshetra & Karnal
Co-operative Milk Producers' Union.

There is no hindrance to growth for the right candidate, particularly in the private sector. A person can rise to the top position in 10-15 years depending upon his performance and the selection of the right organisation at the start of his career.

In the cooperative or government set-up, a person can rise from being a section-in-charge (on appointment) to the chief executive, provided necessary opportunities exist in the organisation.

The mushrooming and diversification of the prospering dairy industry into the food sector added new courses in the dairy sector, and has increased the requirement of dairy technocrats/ professionals.

The dairy sector has contributed and intends to contribute significantly to the manpower needs in the country. This sector is the most important source of employment with handsome salary/ perks to trained dairy technocrats for their technical qualities. Even in the recession, this sector is least affected. The future of professionals in the dairy sector is very bright as these professionals work to create a quality world, a world where consumers have access to high quality products.