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22 May 2019, Edition - 1408, Wednesday

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Coimbatore

Couple brings ‘desi’ milk to doorsteps in Coimbatore

Susmitha Suresh

Coimbatore : When Selvakumar and his wife Sharmila were blessed with a daughter, they only wanted the best of everything for the child. Including unadulterated and fresh milk from indigenous cows.

“A2 milk (milk from indigenous cows) is more suitable for consumption in the weather conditions here,” says Sharmila Selvakumar, co-founder and person behind VilFresh, Laymen Agro Ventures Pvt Ltd. “Till my daughter was two and a half years old, she was breastfed, but after that we started to look for alternatives,” says Sharmila, currently a homemaker but who is now planning to step into the business as her daughter is going to school.

“We were confused in choosing a good milk for her. I was adamant that the milk shouldn’t be pasteurised. But when we looked for people that delivered milk everyday, we found that the milk was often adulterated,” she said. Thus the couple decided to take things into their own hands.

“We have been delivering fresh milk for the past two years” says Sharmila, “The milk is extracted from the cows at 4.30 am, and delivered to customers within two hours.”

The company collects fresh milk from various dairy farmers from villages nearby, employing youth who get Rs 4 for a litre.

“Currently the company employs more than 20 people who are mostly from nearby rural areas nearby. They take the milk to the quality testing centres and then, after packaging, distribute it to customers,” says Sharmila.

VilFresh does not use preservatives or cold storages, nor is the milk pasteurised. “We ask the customers to boil the milk as soon as they get it.”

The whole process is a token system, where the customers are provided 30 tokens every month. The tokens are exchanged for milk. “The customers can try a sample for two days before deciding to buy it regularly or not,” says Sharmila.

Currently, A2 milk from Kangayam cows is priced at Rs 105 a litre and A1 from hybrid ones like Jersey at Rs 48.

“There has been an increase in demand for A2 cows. But they only yield 5 litres a day. The fact is that the yield is not proportional to the food we give them,” she explains. Earlier, A2 milk was priced at Rs 120. But there was increased demand due to increased awareness about the goodness of desi milk, especially after the Jallikattu issue.”

In the beginning they sold it to just four houses, it was all hand packaged. Currently, they sell to 50 apartments and 480 plus houses, besides to hotels like ITC, Radisson Blu and Aloft.

“I hail from an agricultural background. So I knew the need of the farmers as well,” says Selvakumar. He wanted to eliminate middleman and ensure more profit to farmers and better food to people everywhere. He wanted to promote farming and make it more sustainable so that the youth would be interested in it.

“Deserving return to farmers by delivering the goodness of the village directly to the urban consumers by empowering rural youth. An Agro aggregator model,” reads its Facebook page.

The main aim for VilFresh was to empower rural youth in agriculture, the couple told The Covai Post, adding that they wanted to bring the youth back into agriculture.

“There are a lot of youths from rural areas who work as pizza delivery boys. They get around Rs 8,000 a month, we provide them with Rs 15,000-20,000 a month. We want to show them that they can make a profit out of agriculture as well,” she says.

It is also very profitable for farmers and suppliers of milk. “We give better returns than big companies that sell pasteurised milk. They also see us as very reliable as we provide weekly payments. The farmers themselves refer their friends and others to us,” she says. This ensures that there is no scarcity.

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