Many Sikkimese and also consumers in other States have been missing Alpine Cheese produced in the State.
The Dentam West Sikkim ‘s cheese production unit has no output at present. The milk suppliers have not been supplying milk the main ingredient for producing Gouda Cheese.
‘We had simply asked for increasing the rate of milk paid us at par with Sikkim Milk Union, Gangtok, but nothing favourable happened compelling us to stop cow milk supply to cheese production unit. Amul federation has been looking after cheese unit. They have upgraded many machines. 2,800 to 2,900 liters milk was supplied per day,’ said a farmer.
‘Since Amul has been looking after the unit, they were asked to increase the cost of cheese, but they refused then so we could not be given higher rate for our milk. We waited for a few months but could not afford to lose the rate we had asked for. We realised having lost a few Lakh within the period in question, hence it was decided unanimously to supply milk to Sikkim Milk Union so now we are planning to call on CM to solve the problem,’ he added.
According to a supplier farmer, SM union has many facilities for milk suppliers in place and good rate for the cow milk. Some farmers have started their own dairies, earlier there were 11 dairies in Dentam but now there are 16. The employees are serving under MGNREGA. While the secretary animal husbandry & vet.services SB Subba, in an optimistic note said, ’A committee constituted for the dairy matter has been studying the issue. Farmers want to be paid milk rate at par with milk union rate. Decision is awaited and whole thing is in the process. It could be turned into an independent entity.’ All the efforts are on to revive the Amul cheese here.
The unit started under Indo-Swiss cooperation project, meant to improve the farmers was producing Swiss Alpine Cheese to begin with. It is named Sikkim Alpine Cheese Gouda. Due to marketing problems the tie up with Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation also. It was exported and also consumed within the country.
The cheese production continued from 1996, when the Sikkim Dairy Products Private Ltd was set up. The cheese producing unit was promoted by Indo-Swiss Project Sikkim & State Govt of Sikkim and achieved the aim of providing better returns to farmers in the area.
Now, though it is not functioning but it has not shutdown and it is expected that it will be revived soon.