Milking success: Pulwama emerges as Anand of Kashmir

With 8.5 lakh litres of milk supplied to over 40 collection centres daily, the South Kashmir district is the leading milk producer in J&K
A vendor collecting milk from local households at Bundzoo village, 4km from Pulwama, on Wednesday morning.(Waseem Andrabi/HT)
A vendor collecting milk from local households at Bundzoo village, 4km from Pulwama, on Wednesday morning.(Waseem Andrabi/HT)
Updated on Sep 16, 2020 01:12 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Pulwama | ByMir Ehsan

The day dawns early at Bundzoo village, barely 4km from Pulwama town on the highway to Shopian. Women and youngsters, most of them educated, queue up and wait their turn outside the milk collection centre as Kashmir wakes up to a silent dairy revolution.

A hotbed of militancy, Pulwama district is seeing a churn and has emerged as the Anand of Kashmir with dairy cooperatives run by women and youngsters revolutionising milk production in the Valley.

Today, there are more than 40 milk collection centres besides vendors and their middlemen who procure milk from every village house for milk plants in Pulwama district.

Milk being taken to a dairy plant for processing on the outskirts of Pulwama on Wednesday. (Waseem Andrabi/HT)
Milk being taken to a dairy plant for processing on the outskirts of Pulwama on Wednesday. (Waseem Andrabi/HT)

WHERE MILK FLOWS IN ABUNDANCE

Last year, official figures show Pulwama produced 31 crore litres of milk, which was supplied across J&K, and in 2017-18, it produced 28.04 crore litres. Every day, 8.5 lakh litres of milk is produced in Pulwama.

The abundance motivated entrepreneurs to set up processing units and the district has five big milk plants come up in 12 years.

“My unit has a capacity to process 50,000 litres of milk and the venture is running in profit. There is no shortage of milk here. We market and process more than 20,000 litres of milk and milk products every day,” says Shabir Ahmad, the owner of one of the units in Pulwama.

“We get all our milk from local villages and our collection vans go everywhere in the district. Earlier, we used to collect milk from house to house, however, the network ended after the 2016 agitation when the Valley remained shut for six months. Now, we have suppliers who bring milk from households across the district,” he says.

Sharing the secret behind Pulwama’s dairy revolution, district chief animal husbandry officer Syed Abas says, “The topography of the district is such that it is full of orchards and has vast swathes where fodder is grown. Almost every house has milch cattle. Many educated youngsters have also set up small dairy farms.”

Secondly, Abas says, the government provided incentives such as subsidy to buy cows, equipment, tractors, milking machines, milk vans and automatic milk collecting units. Women cooperative societies and self-help groups helped make the milk business a successful venture.

SHOPIAN TAKES TO MILK PRODUCTION, TOO

Villagers in neighbouring Shopian district have drawn inspiration from Pulwama’s success story. “Most rural families here were into horticulture but they have now shifted to rearing cows and collectively produce three lakh litres of milk a day,” says Muneer Ahmad Quershi, the chief animal husbandry officer of Shopian.

“For women, the milk produced by cows generates enough to run their homes and gives them financial independence,” he says.

Showkat Hussain Mir, a postgraduate running a successful dairy unit with 20 cows at Pahoo village, 6km from Pulwama, says, “I worked in the private sector before taking a loan to set up this dairy farm last year. Today, I get more than 200 litres of milk from the dairy that I sell locally and to milk plants. I receive payment from milk plants after every 10 days. I plan to expand the business.”

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