The fastest-growing milkmen in the Punjab

I’m getting a bit behind in my posts here so I’ll try and quickly fill you in on the dairy I visited on Monday (I just had to get my diary to check then – I’ve completely lost track of days in this place).

As I said in my previous post, I’d travelled about 300km out of Delhi to Hiryana state. Despite representing just 3% of India’s land mass, the state is the second-largest in terms of agricultural output, with poultry and dairy representing a large chunk of that.

I was taken to a town called Jind, where I met Baljit Redhu, who seems to be a bit of a poultry and dairy whizz. Just 14 years ago he decided to switch from a career in engineering to poultry, and since then he has steadily built his enterprise to a 100,000 chick/day hatchery, a feed mill, a 2000-head dairy farm and a dairy processing plant, which he opened earlier this year.

By all accounts, the place is pretty swish. Baljit travelled all around the world before he invested in the processing facility so he could learn about animal health, welfare and hygiene, as well as herd genetics and machinery. As a result he’s imported a parlour from Sweden, Holstein genetics from United States and has adopted welfare and feed plans he saw in the rest of Europe.

Dairy

The milk, cheese, ghee (a type of Indian butter) and ice cream he produces at the plant is sold in shops around the state, as well as these funky little ice cream huts dotted along the roadside, tempting drivers from off the roads and creating destinations for people to bring their families for a treat. It’s a new concept for India, and one that’s really taken off in this area.

Icecream hut

Baljit’s investment has gone so well he’s currently building a second processing plant which will produce cheese made from his prize buffalo herd. Within a year he expects to have paid off the investment for both plants and be making in a profit, while within two years he plans to export the cheese to Europe.

Apparently Baljit’s business is not a rarity in this region. As I’ve wrtitten earlier, the market for dairy, like poultry, is growing massively as people in India start to earn more and subsequently spend more on food. The government is investing heavily and banks are desperate to invest in dairy farms because they see it as a huge growth area.

I still think the poor infrastructure means it’s going to take some time before the industry’s full potential is reached, but if farmers manage such impressive and speedy growth like I saw here, the industry’s going to be a serious force to be reckoned with within the next decade.

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