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The Kerala Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (Milma) is gearing up to offer its milk powder brand by launching a mega powdering unit at Moorkanad near Valanchery in Malappuram district. The unit being set up in 12.5 acres will be the State’s first and only milk conversion factory.

Milma officials hope to launch the unit by March next year. When the ₹100-crore facility becomes functional, it will be Milma’s largest single project in the State. It will be able to convert one lakh litres of surplus milk every day. If stretched, the unit can process up to 1.30 lakh litres.

Milma’s tiny powdering unit in Alappuzha was closed down about a decade ago. However, the federation badly felt the need for a powdering unit during the first COVID-19 lockdown, as thousands of litres of milk could not be sold. When the powdering units in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka refused to take milk from Kerala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had to intervene and get 50,000 litres of milk processed at an Erode plant with the support of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin.

Having felt the burning need for a powdering plant, Milma officials prepared an ambitious project with an eye on the future. Swedish multinational Tetra Pak is setting up modern milk conversion machines for Milma at a cost of ₹51 crore.

Although the project originally planned was for ₹54.5 crore, the thought about investing with a futuristic mind pushed Milma to go for a ₹100-crore project. “We chose Moorkanad, as Malappuram is the only district without a dairy plant in Malabar,” said Milma chairman K.S. Mani.

Apart from the Plan funds of the State government and ₹34 crore aid from NABARD, Milma is also raising a good amount for the ambitious project. “It is not a project for profit. Economically, it is not a viable project. But the social cause we stand for is more important for us,” said Mr. Mani.

It will take 10 litres of milk to produce one kilogram of milk powder. The cost of milk alone will be around ₹360 a kilogram. Milma will be under severe constraints to compete with popular brands available in the market. “But the biggest asset we have is our brand,” the chairman added.

He said Milma would manage the high cost of milk powdering by sacrificing its profit and increasing its efficiency. Value-addition will be the new mantra of the powdering plant. “We will make dairy whiteners and other value-added products, he said.

The ultra-modern milk conversion machinery is expected to be installed in two months. The civil work of the factory will also be done simultaneously.

At present, Milma is procuring around 15 lakh litres of milk in Kerala every day, more than half of which is from Malabar. Milma officials hope to procure up to 17 lakh litres a day when the powdering plant becomes functional.

Source : The Hindu May 14 2022

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