Srinagar: Dr R S Sodhi, Managing Director, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd., (AMUL), said that educated youth entrepreneurs in Jammu and Kashmir have huge opportunities in the food and dairy sector. “The Indian food and dairy sector is valued at INR 40 lakh crores, out of which around INR 4 Lakh crores are from the organized sector and Jammu and Kashmir contribute to around 2- 3 per cent.” Dr Sodhi also said that around one-third of the dairy sector is organized.
Addressing a webinar on ‘FICCI Youth Entrepreneurship and Industry Connect’, organized by the FICCI J&K State Council, Dr Sodhi said that to exploit the potential that the sector can offer, the educated entrepreneurs can opt for breeding of calves as crossbred cows have huge marketability; establish cattle feed farms, or even manufacture small milking machines. Entrepreneurs looking at opportunities in the dairy sector lack the training and expertise in the absence of training institutes. Establishing a training school or institution too is something that can be explored by them, he said.
Elaborating on the opportunities that the food and the dairy sector offers, Dr Sodhi said, “Consumers prefer food which are locally processed and locally sold, and of a local brand. This is, however, but subject to meeting quality and brand perceptions.” Dr Sodhi implored young entrepreneurs to go for modern technology, locally sourced ingredients, good packaging, and good quality at affordable prices.
“Among all the sectors and industries, food and dairy are the only sectors that are recession-proof and do not have any chance of a decline or degrowth. 20 per cent of what Indians spend is food spend,” Dr Sodhi added. There are several schemes available from the Animal Husbandry Department and Ministry of Food Processing. “Maximum number of subsidies available in the dairy sector is in J&K,” he informed.
The area of concern, according to Dr Sodhi, however, is that J&K is largely dependent on other states for a lot of milk and milk products. “Whatever milk is produced in rural J&K does not reach its urban counterparts. Lack of market connectivity and absence of correct pricing are the main issues that contribute to the same,” he further added.
Speaking at the webinar, Mehmood Ahmed Shah, KAS, Director Industries Kashmir, said, “We must focus on the factor for chilling of milk which will enable rapid cooling of milk.” He added that land banks had been identified at many places and he suggested that one chilling plant be made mandatory at every land bank. Shah also expressed concerns about the lack of silage in J&K. “Milk production during winters declines. We haven’t yet been able to address this issue,” he added.
Irfan Ahmed Guju, Chairman, FICCI J&K State Council & Managing Director, IA Multi Venture Pvt Ltd., said, “We must carry forward the wisdom shared during the webinar by the experts and encourage the youth of J&K to become entrepreneurs.”
GM Dhar, Director JKEDI, Srinagar, said that there was a need for upgradation of the dairy sector in J&K on modern lines and techniques. “Pulwama district is known as the ‘Anand of J&K’. The people’s concern, however, is the quality of milk that is made available to them.” Dhar said that the educated youth of the state is slowly getting attracted to the sector. He invited technical expertise to J&K .
Dr Jabir Ali, Professor, IIM Jammu, said, “The government schemes must be utilized and we must explore the resources provided by the Govt of India in the dairy sector.”
Farooq Ahmed Najar, HR & Admin Head, J&KMPCL (Milk Federation), said, “Our biggest challenge was to carry the milk from the village to the market safely, but we solved it with the help of AMUL and the govt.”