Holy Cow! We Need Solar Refrigeration Now!
Updated: Jun 20, 2020
The cow is a sacred animal in Hinduism and milk is often used for many religious practices (trust me, I’m Hindu). However, milk in India is used for several purposes besides religion. From curdled products like paneer and non-curdled products like ghee, milk is an essential component of Indian cuisine. It is therefore no wonder that India is the largest producer of milk in the world and that milk is the largest Indian agricultural produce in terms of value. Valued at 6.5 lakh crore (approximately $94 billion USD), milk is more than the total value of paddy and wheat combined.
Even though the figures show that the Indian Dairy industry is major industry in the Indian economy, there are structural limitations that limit the potential revenue return. According to the Indian Mirror, “only 18-20 percent of the total milk produced is being channelized in an organized manner” between 2018 and 2019.
One limitation that Indian dairy farmers face is the storage of milk. To maintain the quality of milk, farmers need to milk cows at least 2-3 times a day. While Farmers sell the first batch of milk at approximately 30Rs/Liter, they sell subsequent batches for pennies to the dollar or they throw this milk away. Farmers in India operate in two broad systems in India – independent farmers, who sell their milk door to door in towns and villages, and farmers who sell their milk to community collection centers. In both instances, farmers could benefit immensely with ways to store excess milk.
Lighting for Learning is currently looking to incorporate solar power, namely solar-powered refrigeration systems, in the milk-collection community center based system.
Currently, this is how the community center based system works. Using figures from a community center in Madhupur,
1) Farmers deposit the milk to the community center where they receive income based on a deposit milk price which is 40 Indian Rupees (INR) per kilogram.
2) The community centers then transfer the milk to a district center, which is a larger center, that has storage and freezing capacity.
3) Big companies like AMUL, SUDHA, and MOTHER DAIRY, then buy this milk from the district center at 42INR per kilogram, which is the price mentioned by the state government.
Below is a diagrammatic representation of how the current system works (This was created by Ranjan Ganguli, April 11, 2020)
There are several possibilities for us to come in. We are currently in the infancy stage of this project where we are brainstorming ideas on how we can use solar and improve the system in place.
Stay tuned for more updates!