By Gaurav Haran,
Considering the potential of dairy in affordably providing proper nutrition, the government can address critical gaps in the value chain, including infrastructure, traceability, modernization, productivity, post-production management, and quality control.
Malnutrition is still a prominent issue in India, with one-third of children under five years are stunted (too short for their age and underweight). An increase in budget allocation for milk fortification, a strategy of adding certain micronutrients like vitamins and minerals in food, would addressee nutrition deficiencies in the country apart from providing supplementation and dietary diversification.
On the farm side, easy availability of credit would encourage farmers to take dairy as the primary source of income rather than for subsistence. The government should offer financial support and encourage dairy farmers to set up the infrastructure for the various dairy-related processes such as milk procurement, cattle feed manufacturing, processing, and marketing of dairy products.
Additionally, despite being a major producer of milk, India's share in exports of value-added products is minuscule. Hence, there is a vast unrealized export market, which can be explored by milk procuring and processing companies. The government needs to push products, which has a massive demand in developed nations. But quality has to meet global standards to compete when milk adulteration is still rampant in the country. Therefore, a food safety inclusive budget could deliver economic as well as social benefits.
Tax reductions in dairy products would accelerate higher adoption, thereby encouraging more investment in research and development. Supporting SMEs in building cold chain infrastructures that are critical for the sector would help reduce wastage and improve quality. Enabling R&D centers and pilot-scale facilities to support innovation into new products and packaging formats would be equally critical.
It is known that a significant portion of the population belongs to the rural sector whose livelihoods depend mainly on agriculture and traditional industries. Hence a greater emphasis on allied sectors such as dairy can significantly benefit the farmers' community while transforming the rural economy as well.
(The writer is CEO of MilkLane)