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82-Unci»ter Farming, Saturday, June 9,1984
BY SALLY BAIR
years ago Tran Williams traveled
to India as part of the International
Farm Youth Exchange program,
and lived with families in that
country for six months, learning
their agriculture and their way of
life. In May, the Williams family
had an opportunity to return the
hospitality extended to Tom by
sharing their home with Naveen
Gowda, 20, the son of one of Tom’s
The Williams family, which
resides on a Jersey farm near
Middletown in Dauphin County,
has hosted many foreign visitors
over the years, but were especially
happy to be hosting Naveen, whose
family had one of the few
privately-owned dairies in India.
The Williams had corresponded
with the family over the years
since Tom had been there.
Naveen’s family even has some
Jersey cows, along with their
Holsteins and Red Danish,
although he explained that the
cows are not purebred, but mixed
with local stock for strength.
Hie climate is quite different
from the climate in this part of the
United States, and cows must
regularly withstand temperatures
of 100 to 105 degrees. Tom explains
that it is not humid, “just hot,” and
Naveen describes his home in
Bangalore as the “coolest place in
South India.” His home is on a
plateau, 3,000 feet above sea level.
The mild climate and the ready
supply of labor makes dairying in
India quite a different proposition
than in Pennsylvania. The milking
parlor is an open “shed,” and the
milking is done by hand. Naveen
explains, “We don’t have milking
machines. We can afford more
Another difference a large labor
force can make, Naveen says is i
that “We use people instead of
fences.” The animals go into a
main enclosure at night, but during
the day people watch to make sure
they don’t wander off.
With 40 acres and about 20 cows
Naveen characterizes his farm as
“pretty small.” That’s by
American standards. In fact, most
true dairies in India are owned by
the government, and could have up
to 1,000 cows. At one time the
Gowda family had a herd of 75
cows, making it the largest private
farm in the state.
Naveen’s father had a
tremendous interest in dairying.
Naveen recalls, “My Dad started
with one cow, to give milk for my
brother, then he increased to five.
Mother milked the cows then.” A
Feeding the Heifers hay is one job that Naveen can easily do in the few weeks he
spending with the Tom Williams family in Dauphin County.
family hosts Indian IFVE
keen breeder of top quality
animals, Naveen’s father had
many show animals in his herd as
it increased to 75 head. He bred one
nationally-recognized cow which
was used as a model. Today top
quality cows may bring from
$lO,OOO to $15,000.
After his father died, Naveen’s
mother continued to operate the
dairy, but cow numbers have
decreased. In fact, Naveen
foresees selling out all the cows,
explaining, “We aren’t making
income on it.”
The family markets its milk
directly from the farm, with people
bringing- their own containers.
When the dairy was at its height,
they delivered milk to customers.
Although it is rare for women to
milk in India, Naveen says his
father introduced the idea, and
today they still employ one woman
milker. Milking two times daily,
Naveen says a milker may be paid
$l.OO per cow per month.
Breeding is done artificially,
with most of the semen imported
from the United States and
Europe. Naveen said the Red
Danish cows are “like Holsteins
but with more butterfat.”
Calves are weaned as soon as
they are bom, but are fed their
mother’s milk for a month.
Because of the protected status of
cows in India, there is little market
for beef, and Naveen says they
give their male calves to the
butcher. He later corrected that
assertion and says they get about
$1 per calf.
He said that veterinarian ser
vices are free to most villagers,
who usually keep one cow for their
own use. Other agricultural ser
vices are also free.
When the family had 75 head of
cows they bought fodder from
outside sources, but with the
reduced numbers, they now
produce their own fodder and
purchase grain concentrate.
Production is low by U.S. stan
dards, averaging 3,000 to 4,000
pounds per lactation.
A big difference from the dairy
situation in the United States is
that milk is in very short supply in
India, making it very expensive to
buy. Naveen estimates that it costs
about 3 rupees for a liter of milk,
and the average wage is about 7-8
rupees a day. Milk produced by the
individual cows in the village’s is
of poor quality, he states, but that
produced in dairies is good quality
with high butterfat.
Naveen notes that in India it is
believed to be bad luck to have a
black cow, and that the most
desirable cow is one that has a
white “v” on its forehead.
Since Hindus do not eat beef, it is
the cheapest meat available.
Conversely, turkey is the most
expensive meat in the country,
followed by chicken, pork and
Naveen said, “At home we have
what you have here to eat, but we
have rice every day.” But he adds,
“I miss my spices.” Even the
bottle of hot sauce on the table at
the Williamses doesn’t add the
necessary zip to the foods. He
points out that curds are
frequently served as an antidote to
the hot food.
Naveen’s mother is Danish, and
therefore they eat meals on a
schedule similar to that followed in
this country. He said that Indian
families would have breakfast of
curries and hot food, a hot lunch, a
tea which would include a large
snack, and the big meal of the day
at 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. His family
eats the evening meal earlier.
Having completed 12 years of
schooling in India, Naveen speaks
exceptional English because he
attended a British private school.
He spent a year on the family dairy
farm, and now is at the end of a six
month trip to this country, visiting
family and friends.
When he returns to India,
Naveen will probably work on the
family coffee plantation, located
about 200 miles from the' ' The
Advertising is always valuable, and Tom Williams decided to let everyone know about
the product he produces. When he applied for the license plate, the plate MILK -1 was
already taken, so he used some ingenuity and applied for the letter “i" instead of the
numeral "1." Now he can encourage people to drink milk wherever he goes, and in this
active family, the car goes many places.
Letters from home help keep Naveen from getting
homesick for his native India, although he does admit to
missing the spicy foods to which he is accustomed.
magalur, the source of 75 percent
of the coffee produced in India.
There the Gowda family raises
400 acres of Arabika coffee and
robusto coffee. They raise the
seedlings in a nursery, tran
splanting them as needed to the
coffee estate. A coffee plant is
productive for 40 years, Naveen
explained, but there is a continuing
process of removing old plants and
adding new ones. A plant will begin
to yield at three years, and must be
constantly, pruned for highest
The coffee is harvested by hand
mainly in December and January,
using 150 workers. Naveen ex
plains that the family provides
living quarters for the workers,
and school for the workers’
The coffee plantation, owned
jointly of Naveen’s fattier and
uncle, provides the family’s major
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