How fit is my cow: Amul digitisation drive offers a device to track bovine health

Representative image

Representative image

Fitness tracker is passé by now. Wearable devices to measure the number of steps we walked or amount of calorie we burnt are commonplace. But that’s all about humans. How about a device to track the bovine fitness?

The Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), which markets milk and milk products under the brand name of Amul, has designed fitness trackers for its cows as part of its digitisation drive.

Right from how much they have eaten to how much milk they have given in a day to their health status, the fitness band tied to the cow’s neck tracks all such data. This information can be tracked on an app in a smartphone.

The digitisation drive is revolutionising Amul, which itself was born from the white revolution. The white revolution, pioneered by Dr Verghese Kurien, was started in 1970 with the aim to make India the world’s biggest producer of milk.

The revolution adopted new methods for animal husbandry and altered the composition of feed ingredients.

Dr Kurien’s brainchild Amul is now fostering the next wave of revolution with its digitisation programe.

“Today you have fit-bit in your hands. You know how much you are walking, what is your pulse rate, you can take your EGC also. So all the information is there for human beings. We thought, why not we have it for the animals as well. If the farmer misses one cycle for insemination to make the animal conceive, he is losing Rs 11,000-Rs 15,000,” Amul Dairy MD Amit Vyastold CNBC-TV18.

“With this tracker, we will come to know that the animal is not eating, it’s not moving. It will also have data like if the animal is pregnant or had a miscarriage,” he said.

The digitisation drive is not restricted to animal health alone, according to him. It also monitors the quality of milk collected at various farms across the country, the veterinary services, and the store by sales. Amul has worked with global tech major SAP to digitise every aspect of the milk cooperatives operations.

In addition, this drive provides farmers access to information on a real-time basis.

Amul said the farmer will also get information about a particular cow on its app as how much milk she has poured in a day, what is the fat content, what is the SNF, and so on.

“Importance of transparency in a organisation where you are dealing with the farmers who are semi-literate is very essential. So, when a farmer is pouring milk, he/she gets information on the app that how much milk she has poured, what is the fat, what is the SNF. It also includes how much she has earned on a given day and deposited in her account,” RS Sodhi, MD, Amul, told CNBC-TV18.

He added that this is bringing trust and confidence in the system basically through the adoption of digital technology, which also grants the member community a chance to develop skills to better use technology for more efficient operations.

How will this system work?

“We have provided 70 computer labs across 70 villages to train the kids there and get them workforce ready. We have selected 60 community centres where we are getting women every single day where we have set up laptops, laboratories and trainings with our partner Pratham Infotech,” Kulmeet Bawa, President and MD, SAP, said.  “We are teaching them communication, financial literacy, digital skilling, internet usage etc.”

Amul and SAP hope to train and digitally upskill one lakh children and over 20,000 women in rural Gujarat through this exercise and result in a digitally savvy cooperative that uses technology to streamline operations and fast-track growth.

PM Modi said that India produces milk worth Rs 8.5 lakh crore annually, more than the turnover of wheat and rice, with small farmers being the biggest beneficiaries of the dairy sector.

“Today, India is the world’s largest producer of milk. When the livelihood of crores of farmers depend on milk, India produces milk worth Rs 8.5 lakh crore annually, something that many people, including big economists, do not pay attention to,” the prime minister had told a gathering at Diyodar in the Banaskantha district after inaugurating a dairy complex and a potato processing plant of the Banas Dairy.

Earlier on March 6, RS Sodhi had said that the company is expecting an 18 percent growth in its turnover this fiscal year to around Rs 46,000 crore on better demand.

India’s leading dairy cooperative, GCMMF, had posted a marginal growth of 2 percent during FY21 to Rs 39,200 crore despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are expecting around 18 percent growth this fiscal year to about Rs 46,000 crore,” Sodhi told PTI. The demand for all products, like butter, ice cream, milk, has improved, he claimed.

In volume terms also, Sodhi said, the growth will be around 15 percent. In the last financial year, the GCMMF turnover grew marginally as sales of ice cream were down 35 percent mainly because of the nationwide lockdown during the summer to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. The commodity business of products like skimmed milk powder (SMP) was also impacted.

The cooperative sells 150 lakh litres of milk per day, of which Gujarat contributes around 60 lakh litres, Delhi-NCR 37 lakh litres and Maharashtra 20 lakh litres, he added. It also sells milk in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Kolkata.

On February 28, the company had increased the prices of milk prices by Rs 2 per litre. The increased prices came into effect from March 1 across India.

In a statement, the GCMMF had said that the increase of Rs 2 per litre translates into a 4 percent increase which is much lower than average food inflation.

“It is worthwhile to note that in the last two years, Amul has made only 4 percent increase per annum in prices of its fresh milk category,” the GCMMF had said.

This price hike was done due to a rise in costs of energy, packaging, logistics and cattle feed that has led to an increase in the overall cost of operation and milk production.

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