|| Joken Ete ||

ITANAGAR, Jun 30: Excessive traveling and a low-paying job forced Dope Padu to quit his contingency government job and start a dairy farm.

Hailing from Darka village in Arunachal Pradesh’s West Siang district, Dope, who is the youngest of six siblings, started his dairy farm- Goyum Dairy Farm in December 2021- and the rest they say is history.

A Diploma holder in Civil Engineering from Raasi Polytechnic College, Rasipuram, Tamil Nadu, the 32-year-old says he ventured into dairying as he was disillusioned with the low pay and continuous travelling.

He landed a job as site engineer in the Arunachal Pradesh Police Housing & Welfare Corporation, soon after finishing college.

“Life was not secure and my job involved lots of traveling,” Padu said.

“I was paid Rs 12,000 per month and it involved continuous travelling to various parts of the state including Tirap, Changlang, Longding, Tezu, Namsai, Roing, Anini and other places,” he recalls.

“In fact, the department did not pay for the travelling, there was no travelling or dearness allowance, we had to bear our own expenses,” he said.

He said I could not even save Rs 1000 at the end of the month.

As my life was at a standstill, I decided to venture into dairying, he said.

My elder brother helped me financially at the initial stage especially in procuring cows and building sheds, he says.

“Now, I have thirty cows of various breeds including Jersey, HCF and Sahiwal. I procured them from Haryana, Rajasthan and other places,” he says proudly.

Padu says he feeds them with dairy ration, Bobino and Chapor procured from Silapathar, Dibrugarh or Tinsukia in Assam.

At present, there are seven labourers including a delivery boy to assist him daily.

Fondly called the ‘Milkman of Aalo’, Padu supplies milk to the whole of Aalo township in the morning and Ramakrishna Mission area, Kabu, Sipu Puyi and his native Darka village in the afternoon.

During peak time, over 100 litres of milk are produced but presently as all the milch cows have calves, the production has declined, he said.

Currently, I could only produce around 60-70 litres daily, he says.

He says he earns over Rs 3 lakhs per month by selling milk at Rs 120 per litre.

Over Rs 1 lakh is spent on procuring fodder for the cattles, Padu says he saves nearly Rs 1 lakh after paying his employees.

Apart from milk, he also sells paneer (cheese) at Rs 1,000 per kilogram, and Dahi (curd) at Rs 200 per kilogram.

“There is huge scope for dairying in Aalo, as there is literally no competition,” he says. Most of the milk we get here are from non-Arunachalee, who caters to a sector or a nearby Colony of the township.

Padu, however, expressed dismay at the lack of help and support for young and prospective entrepreneurs including himself from the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary, Dairy Development Department.

There are many schemes like Chief Minister’s White Revolution (started in 2021-22 provides 90% subsidy for prospective entrepreneurs); AtmaNirbhar Pasu Palan Yojana, National Livestock Mission (an amount of Rs 60 lakhs is extended to entrepreneur for startup and for fodder), etc.

But not everything is lost as Padu received a unit (a unit consists of three cows) of milch cows (jersey) from the department under Chief Minister’s White Revolution. He also benefited from the department for cultivating Napier fodder himself in his farm.

“I got assistance from the department for producing Napier fodder, which is given to cows to boost production and energy,” he said.

Claiming that public leaders are the real culprit as they nominate/register their own family members and relatives as beneficiaries instead of nominating/recommending actual beneficiaries, Padu rues.

To boost his income, Padu also started three units of fish ponds nearby the farm.

I rear all types of fish. They are fed with the dumplings of the cows, he says.

West Siang district veterinary officer Dr Dakge Riba, who is also head of the Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development department in the district, praised Padu for starting the venture.

He said there is a huge demand for cow milk in Aalo and nearby villages and it should be tapped properly.

Dr Riba said the department extends help and support to beneficiaries like cattle (cow), schemes for fodder development, subsidy for sheds, etc.

He said people should reap benefits from the government schemes.

“Quality and trust are what sets him apart,” says R Potom, who has been a customer since the farm started operations.

His milk is not adulterated and he is the only local person who is into dairying, she says, indicating that most people prefer to buy milk from him as an encouragement.

J Ete, who runs a local store in Paktu Market area here, says our unemployed educated youth instead of wasting their time should also start such ventures to earn a living.

Risk taking is essential for personal growth and it is true for business also, Padu says smilingly, forcing me to wonder how many unemployed educated youths from our hometown will follow his footsteps.