Bengaluru: The sale of donkey’s milk has always been a thriving practice in the city. Now it has become even more so, with villagers from within the state and from the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu making the rounds on the streets of Bengaluru selling 15ml of donkey’s milk for a whopping Rs 50!
What was once a traditional practice, used as a tried-and-trusted remedy for various ailments, is now a thriving business. To the extent that nowadays donkeys are given on lease by their owners as soon as they give birth to a calf - during the lactation period itself. In fact, breeding female donkeys are even forced to bear calves to keep the business moving.
Shakthi, a 30-year-old who hails from Krishnagiri in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu, is earning well from selling donkey’s milk. "Earlier my grandfather and I used to sell donkey's milk in Krishnagiri and its surrounding areas in Tamil Nadu. Later after his death, I moved to Bengaluru to take up a job as a taxi driver.” But he had little luck in the profession and an accident made him switch to selling donkey's milk in the city along with his brother. “It has many takers for its medicinal value,” he adds. "I sell around 250 ml of milk each day and charge Rs 50 per 15ml."
He said, a donkey gives milk for about seven to eight months in a year. It takes another three years for it to conceive and give birth to a new calf. "We have to keep the business going. We don’t own any donkeys, we take them on lease. A man in Malleshwaram owns about 50 breeding female donkeys, and he gives the donkeys on lease for Rs 15,000.” It’s a good business, he says. “We get to sell the milk and make a profit for 7-8 months till the lactation period is over."
Shakthi makes around 1.5 lakh profit by selling donkey's milk for 7-8 months. “Everyone from newborns to adults drink donkey’s milk. I spend just `200 a day to feed the donkey, so it's less expensive when compared with a cow.”
It’s hard work. Shakthi makes his rounds of 2-5 kilometers every morning from 6 am to 10 am with the donkey and its calf trotting alongside. He sells the milk in about 5 localities. "We live in tents and once the business slackens off, we move on to other parts of the city and cover localities there.”
There are many others like Shakthi who are selling donkey’s milk in the city. Shakthi says, "There are around 10-15 people like me selling donkey’s milk across the city."
The medicinal value of this milk is well known. Shakthi says that donkey's milk is a natural medicine which can cure asthma, cold, cough, jaundice, arthritis, it helps people with lack of appetite and those who suffer from burning sensation in the stomach.