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Namita Devidayal | TNN | New Delhi | Apr 23, 2017:: The best reason to save the desi cow has nothing to do with bovine politics. It is milk. Desi doodh, or A2 milk from indigenous cows, is becoming the latest health fad, with small dairies and big brands like Amul entering the market.
Much of the cow milk available in the market is A1, from crossbred or foreign cows. Though research is not conclusive, some studies have shown that A1 can trigger inflammation in the body, potentially leading to ailments like diabetes and heart disease.
A2, on the other hand, has found favour with the health-conscious and the lactose-intolerant who say it is easy to digest. In fact, it’s already got takers abroad.
A Sydney-based company, A2 Milk Company, has found an international following in New Zealand and China and is expanding to the United States. Back home Amul has responded to the new interest in A2.
It recently launched a premium desi cow milk product in Ahmedabad and plans to add the Surat market next.
However, Amul managing director R S Sodhi admits that the market is niche. “When you want to sell it at a premium price, the market is very small. But gradually, awareness is growing.”
A small but growing band of dairy farmers is also catering to this new market. V Shivakumar, a former Wall Street programmer, realized the difficulties of sourcing A2 milk because of a lactose-intolerant newborn. He went on to form the Coimbatore-based Kongu Goshala to preserve Tamil Nadu’s Kangeyam and Tiruchengodu breeds. He also runs a mobile app Kongu Maddu, where people can place orders for A2 milk.
Gurgaon-based Back2basics breeds Gir cows for A2 milk which it supplies to households in Delhi, Noida and Gurgaon. When retired market researcher Titoo Ahluwalia first started keeping cows at his farm in Nandgaon, a coastal village near Mumbai, he was more interested in generating dung for his organic vegetables and ensuring his children grew up around “these gentle, giving animals”.
When he read up on desi cows, he realised the benefits of the milk. “Regrettably, many desi varieties of cow are already close to extinction,” says Ahluwalia.
While most dairy owners deny any problems related to consumption of A1 milk, they do admit that local cows are much more in tune with India’s climate conditions, and therefore remain healthier.
Desi cows are bred largely by religious communities and ashrams, where the animal is revered and productivity is not the prime motivation.
According to one farmer, there are just about 15,000-18,000 Gir cows left in the country. Brazil, which imported them from India in the late sixties, has a far higher population. The National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources, Karnal, has been trying to motivate farmers to shift to A2 breeds, with some success, says Monica Sodhi, a scientist at the institute.
Read also: The Desi Cow – Almost Extinct. (Source: The Teheka. 02.02.2013).
Holy cow! Desi cattle show dip in numbers, foreign variety up. (Source- Indian Express. 04.09.2014).
India’s livestock population decreases by 3.33 percent: Census. (Source- Zee News. 06.09.2014).
Indian Cow & the Economy. (Source- Bharat Arise. 05.10.2015).
Milk gets a swadeshi nudge, govt wants indigenous cattle to get preference. (Source- Business Standard. 26.12.2016).
Courtesy : TOI & all links used above.