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Solar power comes to milk coops’ rescue in Karnataka

According to reports, power interruptions don’t interrupt them. As many as 522 milk cooperatives in the state are using solar power to run electronic weighing and testing machines, all thanks to an initiative by the SELCO Foundation.

Co-founded by Magsaysay Award winner Harish Hande, the foundation is a social enterprise working towards providing sustainable energy solutions.

The Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) has over 12,900 Milk Producers’ Cooperative Societies (MPCS) in the state, of which 3,200 are Women Milk Producers’ Cooperative Societies (WMCPS). Also called milk collection centres (MCCs), most of these are in rural areas.

The initiative has not only helped KMF – the country’s second largest milk producer – cut down on electricity consumption but also prevented delays in the process of milk weighing and testing, and its delivery to processing and pasteurization units.

Vakeel ur Rahaman, additional director, Support to Training and Employment Programme (STEP), KMF, told TOI that solar energy has made things much easier for KMF. The federation collects milk from MCCs twice a day – morning and evening. And in many rural areas, power cuts are a norm in the evenings. “Our motto is to spread awareness about solar energy in villages, so that residents can switch to solar equipment for household purposes,” said Vakeel.

How it works

– Solar panels are installed on roofs of milk cooperative societies

– Batteries which provide backup (up to 4 hours) are charged through these panels.

– Power from these batteries is used to illuminate two lights and to run electronic milk weighing and testing machines. Milk testing is conducted to measure fat and water content.

On an average, cooperative centres test 800-1000 litres of milk a day, usually from 5am to 6am and from 6pm to 7pm. Since these centres are located in villages, often there is no power during the time of testing, and there are chances of the milk getting spoiled. If milk transportation is delayed, producers may end up with lesser remuneration.

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