Milk Mantra - Ethical Milk Sourcing Programme impacts 4000 farmers; aims to include 20,000 by end 2012

In search of the source - the MOO effect by Lt Col (Retd) Ashit Mahapatra COO Milk Mantra

Bhubaneswar, Orissa, June 22, 2012 /India PRwire/ -- It was the month of April and the cool early morning breeze welcomed the two teams of Milk Mantra to the under developed and non-descript villages of Subarnapur and Nasikesara in the western part of Puri district, Odisha. We had just set up our first collection networks in these two villages; the year was 2011. This marked a defining moment in the history of Milk Mantra - or the genesis of milk for Milk Mantra.

Mixed feelings haunted us - the firm belief of success in our heads and countless butterflies in the stomach. But each member was full of enthusiasm and fully charged to face the challenges. The belief of knowledge that working with the farmers in the Milk Mantra way will make a real difference to each of their lives, was the passion. We were trying to address the issues which were harming the interest of the farmers and work with them to collect the purest milk - something that the verdant villages in this milk blessed district had and needed to be tapped. All our plans and decisions were based on two fundamentals- mutual growth for all and transparency in all transactions. Time has come to put this to the acid test.

After the customary rituals, the milk collection process started. Farmers started trickling into the Collection Points (CPs) and to the two Bulk Milk Coolers (BMCs). Some came to deposit milk but most of them were there to see what was going on! They wanted so check out that what they had been told during the village meetings was a reality and not a story. But the important question was - Where the hell is the milk? Suddenly in Nasikesara, we found four farmers with 160 litres of milk amongst them. Our plan of getting to the target of 500 litres seems to be fructifying. Our expectations collapsed faster than a house of cards. On testing it was found that the milk had more water mixed than the milk itself! Though we were caught between target and quality, the decision was quick and clear - the 160 litres of milk had to be rejected. We had clearly set out our principles before - never compromise on quality. Typical scenes seen only in Hindi movies followed; these four farmers threatened our very existence and stomped off. And to add salt to our already wounded ego, they sold off this milk to a milk agent barely 100 meters. Time was about 0830 hr and we were about to close our collection. Total collection was 50 litres in both the places. Including the evening collection, we collected 91 litres on the first day- 20% of our target - not to be disheartened, the team focused on getting each litre of milk; and slowly, our resolve paid off as we finally got to our target of 500 LPD 16 days later on 7th May 2011.

Our determination to be on the right path reaped rich dividends and dispelled the initial doubts of the farmers. The Ethical Milk Sourcing Programme has at its very core the belief that timely payments to the farmers at the rate agreed, something that most milk agents do not do, will have a sustainable economic impact on improving the lives of the farmer. In addition to that other benefits like supply of quality feed, cattle health camps, training on best practices for getting quality milk etc in the promised manner will enable the farmer to wrk towards a better milk source. Farmers identified us with quality - at Milk Mantra we source only the purest and freshest milk and have established strict controls to affect that. Today, farmers see us with great confidence and we are on our way to our first phase target of 50,000 LPD.

Our team which includes the development executives and infra team, have spared no effort to implement our plans and ensure that it runs smoothly. Along with specific planning, they have been our main strength and catalyst for growth. The Ethical Milk Sourcing Programme has already benefitted around 4000 rural farmers who are directly in our network - and this year there will be other special initiatives introduced for their benefit; we continue to believe that.......

Happy Farmers = Happy Cows = Best Milk!

Kanchanabala Behera (BS01/114)

Kanchanabala belongs to Asijanga village in Kakatpur block. She has been a dairy farmer since a number of years. Before she joined us four months back, she used to give milk to one local dairy company on a average 4 litres per day (LPD). She used to get around Rs 12.00 per litre.

After a Collection Point was opened in her village, she switched over to Milk Mantra and started pouring about 10 LPD. With the quality of milk (without any adulteration) she gives, she is now getting between Rs 16.00 to 19.00 per litre. This is a straight jump of 33% over the last receipts. More than the price she is happy with the system Milk Mantra is following. She is very happy with the transparency and honesty in the system and scope of her supplying throughout the year. In fact the local milkmen have started offering Rs 19.00 to 20.00 per litre, but she does not want to go back as they are not very clean and the system does not differentiate between good and bad milk.

At present, she has three cows and wants to procure more by taking cattle loan. With the increase earning her social status has been enhanced and now she can take better care of her children with better education.

Tapaswini Behera, GA, Kantimala (BD01)

Kantimala, opened a year back, is one of our first Collection Points and one of the most successful ones as well. Full credit goes to the husband and wife team of Tapaswini and Sameer Behera of the same village. They have set up the CP exactly as per design and plan. Motivating the farmers to pour with them and giving them prompt service has been hallmark of this couple. Despite presence of a Milk Collection Society Centre of a local dairy company in their village, they could ramp up the milk collection volume from 35 litres to 315 LPD in a short span of time. The quality of milk collected, recording the collection data and more importantly, maintenance and cleanliness of the CP and the machinery are exemplary. This is a great achievement by any standard. With this volume, they are able to earn around Rs 5000.00+ per month which they can utilize for their son's and daughter's education and future requirements.

Notes to Editor

Milk Mantra is India's 1st VC funded agri food start up. The 'little company' is leveraging its exciting 'Milky Moo' brand to make a sustainable economic impact on the lives of poor rural farmers of Orissa.

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Milk Mantra Dairy Pvt. Ltd recent press release(s)

Aavishkaar VC funded Milk Mantra launches Milky Moo milk

Milk Mantra, a VC funded dairy startup, has launched its flagship brand Milky Moo. For the first time in India, fresh milk is being delivered through a unique direct to home (D2H) distribution system of the company. The product portfolio currently boasts of no need to boil pasteurised milk and fresh paneer.