‘Mooo’ point: Dairy farming in Punjab gets an Aussie push
Under the project, two master trainers visit a village a day, gather farmers young and old, and treat them to a gripping audio-visual lecture on dairy-related issues, ranging from green fodder and breeding practices to diseases and commercial viabilityUpdated: Feb 17, 2018 09:46 IST
It’s only befitting that the foundation of a dairy revolution in Punjab should be laid by an Indian living in Australia, the third largest dairy exporter in the world. Come Monday and the Australian High Commissioner to India, Harinder Sidhu, will launch ‘Mooo’ app and ‘Mooo’ mobile dairy van, two projects scripted by UDAY, a social enterprise run by Indian-Australian Param Singh, who traces his roots to Batala in Gurdaspur district.
But few people know that the Mooo vans launched by UDAY (Avteg Pvt Ltd), which has tied up with the national and state skill development missions, are already creating a stir in Sangrur. “We have touched over 2,800 farmers in 76 villages since September last year,” says Aashna Singh, the business administration graduate from London School of Economics who heads the rural prosperity division of this enterprise.
- UDAY is all set to launch the Mooo app, a dairy farm management application that will help the farmers in calculating their costs and profits besides providing need-based alerts. Business head Aashna Singh says it will be their record-keeper. “Information about every cow/buffalo will be uploaded on the app and the farmer will get alerts about its breeding cycle, pregnancy diagnosis and calving, et al.”
Under the project, two master trainers visit a village a day, gather farmers young and old, and treat them to a gripping audio-visual lecture on dairy-related issues, ranging from green fodder and breeding practices to diseases and commercial viability. “This is Step 1, when we establish that dairy business is sustainable. Then follows a boot camp a fortnight later that provides intensive training to selected farmers,” says the young woman who is from Amritsar.
Dr Sukhcharan Gosal, former deputy director with the animal husbandry department, and now a master trainer with the project, says that unlike government interventions that last one day a year, theirs is a continuous process. “After the first two steps, we zero in on VLEs (village-level dairy entrepreneurs) who motivate others by example and are always around to guide villagers.”
Gosal says farmers know they can’t draw any more profits from the soil. “I tell them how dairy farming lets them make money twice a day, unlike farming in which they get it twice a year.”
Gurdeep Singh, 34, a farmer from Thamman Singh Wala village, has already given the initiative the thumbs-up. “Vadiya hai ji (it’s good), they taught me the importance of maintaining records and improving the breeds,” says the farmer who owns four buffaloes and grows wheat and paddy on his six acres. Now he is determined to breed cows that will give him a yield of 20-25 litres a day.
The blue and pink mobile van attracts quite a few eyeballs on Friday when it cruises into Samuran village with Dr Gosal beaming from the front seat. Dairy farmer Daljeet Singh, 40, says this is the first time in his life that he has attended such a camp. “It was quite an eye-opener; even youngsters enjoyed it. They say they will always be around to guide us. Let’s see!” He gets Rs 40 a litre for his high-fat milk. The van, which has a public sound system, is also a big hit with women, who in many cases do dairy farming on the side to supplement the family income.
On the side
Gosal says he also uses the occasion to educate youngsters about the perils of drugs. “I tell them they can make a decent income if they start dairy farming.”
UDAY has also tied up with milk brands such as Verka and Banni to expand reach, and to popularise the indigenous Sahiwal breed, “whose milk helps fight cancer,” says Gosal.
The project was conceived seven years ago when Param Singh, then 29, visited the Asian Development Bank in the Philippines and learnt about sustainable change. Determined to do his bit for farmers, he invested half of the proceeds from the sale of his first Aussie business into UDAY in 2015. Today UDAY works in six states of India, and has Param alternating, spending three weeks Down Under and three in India.