The milk farmers of Ilam have earned more than Rs 1.8 billion this fiscal year. They have sold 90,267 metric tonnes of cow and buffalo milk.
Forty per cent of the total milk production for the eastern region comes from Ilam.
More residents of Ilam have taken up this occupation because there is a lucrative market for milk. Dhak Bahadur Karki of the Regional Directive of Animal Services says, "5001 people are currently involved in this profession from 247 animal husbandry groups." In addition, there are another 33,000 farmers who operate independently. Those involved commercially in this sector sell milk at collection centres set up by the Dairy Development Corporation (DDC), while the Milk Distribution Project in Biratnagar refrigerates the collected milk.
The many government and private cheese factories, confectionaries and private dairies are also buyers of the milk produced. While the local price is Rs 12 per litre, the collection centres and the factories pay a rate of Rs 30 to the farmers. Nirmala Adhikari of Panchakanya VDC has one cow, and she sells 25 litres of milk a day. She says that her income from milk is higher than that from ginger, broom grass, potatoes or tea farming. She has been using the money to educate her children. Farmers in Ilam sell on average between 5 to 40 litres of milk a day.
The DDC has announced prizes to encourage the collection of high quality milk. Birkha Bahadur Tamang, one of the winners, says that investment in high quality of food for cows is worth the quality of milk produced.
DDC has six milk collection centres in the district, which collect 40,000 litres of milk everyday.