Gangtok (Sikkim) [India], Dec. 3 : Sikkim's cheese making industry, known for producing some of India's finest varieties of cheese, is no longer confined to the Indian borders as it is stamping its mark globally.
Dentam, a scenic village in Sikkim, is dotted with cheese spread manufacturing units which have slowly but steadily going places.
One of the most famous plants here is a dairy unit producing Sikkim Alpine Cheese Spread. The product has scored over similar products of major dairy firms and has made forays in national and international markets.
Set up in 1996 under the Diary Development Programme of the Indo-Swiss Project Sikkim (ISPS), Sikkim Alphine Cheese Spread is striving to produce quality cheese and paneer (cottage cheese), extracted from quality cow's milk under hygienic environment.
Manufactured by Sikkim Diary Products Pvt. Ltd, Sikkim Alphine Cheese Spread is the second product to be launched by the unit after Alphine Cheese Gouda - rated as best in the country.
"Earlier we were facing difficulties in marketing. Cheese was prepared but the demand was too less here. So later we collaborated with Gujarat cooperative Amul. Now whatever amount of cheese is prepared it is exported," Harish Chandra Poudyal, Accountant, Sikkim Alphine Cheese Spread said.
The cheese is exported to Singapore under the name of Amul. With this, the product is slowly expanding to more international markets, generating more revenues and creating more job opportunities.
Currently, a 12-member team of people oversees the work and production at the dairy unit. At least 2,000 litres of quality cow's milk are procured in a day to produce the products. "My job is to make cheese. It takes lot of time to make cheese. It takes around 5-7 hours. The process involves receiving the milk and pasteurizing it. Once again it is heated and left for half an hour to cool down to 31 degrees. Then we keep it for cooling and then it turns into curd in 30 minutes. Then curd cutting is done for 20 minutes, followed by draining of the unwanted things in curd and mixing the useful one with 40 percent pasteurised water and cooking it at 36 degrees.
Then it is left untouched for an hour and again drain and the remaining part is kept for moulding," Deepak Chettri, Worker said.
Setting up such projects in rural areas alleviates and uplifts the living standards of the people and boosts the economy of the state and region as a whole.
Sikkim's cheese is being exported to different parts of the world and in the process, this industry is creating employment opportunities for the youth and in turn contributing to the state's development.