Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Following the formal milk route in Bihar

During my trip in India last year, to Nalanda district in Bihar, i followed the formal (organized) milk route. It is one of the first formal milk value chain i have visited and i learned a lot about the challenges of a cold chain. Let me take you along!

We first visited a village, in which farmers had create. They have a milk collection point, where quality and quantity of the  milk is assessed.
Community collecting point, with the machine to assess milk quality

From there one of the farmers takes all milk by bike to the big road, which is the pick up point and waits for the milk union track that comes and picks the milk. In order to remember from where the milk comes every container has the name of the community market in red.

the milk containers with community name
The milk truck as a fixed agreed route and usually reaches the pick up point with 15 min. From there the track continues to the processing plants.
The milk truck
Between milking and cooling within the processing plant there is a maximum of 4 hours. Every step in the chain is monitored, so when milk arrives bad at the plant, one can find where something went wrong (was the truck late, or did the farmer bring old milk), so that it can be defined who has to bear the loss. The plant pays only for the good quality milk that has arrived.

the processing plant in Nalanda
In some districts it is not possible to reach the plant within 4 hours since milking. Therefore, the milk union also build cooling point. As the milk union continues to grow, there will be a need for more of these cooling points, as distances to the plant will increase.

packed milk arriving at the shop
The milk is processed, pasteurized and brought back to the consumer in a cool chain.The plant also processes powder milk. During holiday season, when the demand for milk is big and farmer supply little (as their home consumption increases), powder milk regenerated and mixed into the fresh milk (up to 50%). If there is too much powder milk, then it is dumped to Bangladeshi and Nepali market.
a milk shop that sells the milk union pasteurized milk in Patna town
Because the quality of the milk is still relatively low, it is just pasteurized and sold in the region. However the Nalanda plant hopes to be able to increase milk quality so that it will fit the standard to be packed into tetra pack that can be sold in Dehli, which implies much higher margins.

I hope i will get a change to go back in some years and see how this value chains has changed. 

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