Himachal Pradesh being predominantly an agricultural State provides direct employment to about 70 percent of the total population and contributes up to nearly 13.62 percent of the total State Domestic Product (SDP). Besides, Animal Husbandry is an important component of agro-related activities and goes hand in hand with contributing to uplifting the economy of the farmers.
As a sequel to the age-old practices and dependence of the population on livestock, Himachal Pradesh is endowed with a large livestock population. According to the 19th Livestock Census, the total population of livestock in Himachal is 48,44,431 which includes 21,49,259 cows, 7,16,016 buffaloes and the rest are sheep, goats, horses, ponies, and poultry.
To develop a milk-based economy in the state, the present government has announced a new scheme Him-Ganga. Under this scheme, cattle rearers will be provided a true cost-based price for the milk, and qualitative improvement will be brought into the system of milk procurement, processing, and marketing.
The state government in its maiden budget proposed to spend Rs. 500 crore on Him-Ganga yojana. For the successful execution of the scheme, the government has approved Rs. 20 crores of Grant-in-Aid (GIA) to H.P. Milk Federation for the first quarter of 2023-24.
The scheme also envisages true cost-based pricing along with good practice bonuses besides identification, organization, and formation of Women-Led Milk Cooperatives.
In its first phase, the scheme is being implemented on a pilot basis in districts Kangra and Hamirpur by linking farmers with the scheme. Thereafter it will be expanded to other districts in a phased manner. A special purpose committee has been created for various initiatives undertaken regarding procurement and society formation in these two districts. Against the target of 150 Milk Producers Co-operative Societies (MPCS) in Kangra and 50 in Hamirpur district, around 48 new organized MPCSs have been formed in the last six months.
To strengthen the infrastructure, the State government will collaborate with the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) to set up a state-of-the-art milk processing plant at Dagwar in district Kangra with an outlay of Rs. 250 crores. NDDB will provide assistance from its operation to marketing. The capacity of this fully automatic new Milk processing plant would be three lakh liter per day (LLPD), in which high-quality milk products would be prepared to benefit the farming community of districts Kangra, Hamirpur, Una, and Chamba. NDDB shall also conduct a survey of the milk collection system in these areas.
Apart from this, a Powder plant of a capacity of 10 MT per day and other products along with augmentation of 11 plants under MilkFed are proposed under it.
Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said that the Congress party in its ‘Pratigyapatra’ has promised to buy cow’s milk at Rs. 80 per liter and buffalo’s milk at Rs.100 per liter from the farmers. With the launch of the Him Ganga scheme, the State Government was moving towards fulfilling this promise.