ASSURING THEM of government support, Union Minister Parshottam Rupala on Saturday asked maldharis (herdsmen and cattle-herders) to create dairy brands that “stand for quality” and tap into people’s preference for organic products that is being witnessed since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
Addressing a seminar on the theme of revitalising pastoral pastoral identity and economy in Rajkot, Rupala said the maldharis needed to appreciate the “changed times”.
“The fact that you have managed to survive by herding your goats and sheep, camels and cows, buffaloes and bovines means you must be doing something right. But to sustain ourselves, we need to think about and adapt to changed times. Gir breed of cow is today considered the best cow breed in the world. The need of the hour is to provide best product. Why don’t you create brands that stand for quality and purity? People are ready to pay good price for such products, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic when people are increasingly preferring organic products,” Rupala, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, said.
He was reacting to concern raised by Gordhan Dhameliya, chairman of Gopal Dairy (Rajkot District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Limited), about adulteration in milk. Speaking at the seminar, Dhameliya said that Gopal Dairy has been acting tough on those engaging in adulteration and has installed milk-screening machines which detect almost all types of adulteration. The chairman sought the Centre’s financial help in installing more such machines so that quality of milk can be maintained.
“We will definitely help dairies in this regard. But we will also help maldharis directly. At the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the budget for the next fiscal has proposal to treat maldharis and fishermen on the same line as farmers and provide them Rs3 lakh loan at four per cent interest,” Rupala said.
The Minister added that India is the largest milk producer of the world yet per capita milk yield in India is comparatively low. “Why is it that Gir cows in Brazil are yielding up to 50 litres of milk a day where as productivity of our herd is low?,” Rupala said, adding maldharis who lead nomadic lives should be brought under the network of cattle-feed so that productivity of their herds go up.
He also added that the BJP governments in the state, over the years, pumped Narmada water to Kutch and made drinking water available and thereby helped maldharies who otherwise had to migrate out of the district every year in search of water and fodder. Rupala also assured maldharis that the Centre would extend all possible support for conservation of camels, donkeys and goats in the state.
The Union Minister also launched ‘Rich Cups’, Greek yogurt made from goat milk by United India Dairy Products, a firm based in Sayla taluka of Surendranagar district. The Minister also launched the firm’s penda made from goat milk.
The seminar was organised by Sahjeevan, an NGO based in Bhuj of Kutch and working for welfare of maldharis in Saurashtra region of Gujarat. The NGO has opened an office in Upleta taluka of Rajkot district recently with an aim to conserve Halari breed of donkeys, Kahmi breed of goat and also try and get Bhagri goats as a distinct boat breed.
“The idea is to conserve these goats while also promoting livelihoods of maldharis by providing them market linkages,” Manoj Mishra, executive director of Sahjeevan, said.