A joint venture between the Pune district cooperative milk union, Katraj Dairy, and the NGO Ved Vasudev Pratisthan can offer solutions to some of India’s dairy farmer’s problems. This venture promotes commercial use of cow dung and cow urine as a source of extra income for the farmers.
The Srimad Vasudev Goshala, which came into existence towards the end of 2018, saw Katraj Dairy setting up a cowshed on its land and the Pratisthan supplying the animals and the management. What makes this cowshed unique is that it uses cow dung and cow urine to make 16 products. From shampoos to floor cleaners to dung cakes to dung biscuits to incense, the Goshala has managed to produce many items out of the animals’ refuse.
Indian or desi animals, though sturdy, are not preferred by the farmers given the lower milk yields. While the milk of these animals is considered by many to be superior to that of mixed or hybrid cows, lack of marketing avenues has affected dairy farmers’ incomes. Over the years, Indian cattle breeds like Gir, Tharparkar, Deoni and Sahiwal have dwindled in numbers, the absence of proper genetic material for their proliferation being one of the reasons.
Hemant Joshi, manager of the joint venture, said it wished to promote holistic use of the desi (native) animal. “Instead of just milk, the animal can offer good alternative incomes to the farmer with its dung and urine. Cow dung is the best source of organic carbon and farmers often end up buying it for field preparation,” he said.
Joshi said the first few Gir cattle came from border areas of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. At present the Goshala has 63 animals, and collects 150-200 kg of dung on an average.
Though Covid and the lockdowns had affected the venture, all the products in the outlets of Katraj Dairy have been sold. Demand for these products in urban and semi-urban areas is good, but more needs to be done to reach out to customers, Joshi said, adding that dung dried and powdered under the animals’ hooves is an excellent fertilizer which can be marketed also. “Our aim is to show how the dairy business can be more than just milk,” he said.