Nestlé Pakistan, in collaboration with Markings Publishing, recently published Drops of the Divine: A Story of Milk in Pakistan – a coffee table book that documents the development of the milk industry ‘from grass to glass’.
The book has been conceptualised and funded by Nestlé Pakistan, and the reason behind this, according to Waqar Ahmad, Head of Corporate Affairs, Nestlé Pakistan, is that “as an industry leader, we thought it pertinent to give consumers a holistic overview of the process of extracting, processing and packaging milk.” Ahmad says that Markings’ enthusiasm for the project mirrored Nestlé’s and they were given full access to Nestlé’s resources ‘from field to factory’. “We briefed Markings about what we wanted and they helped us develop a narrative that was compelling and visually appealing,” he says.
As the fourth largest milk-producing country in the world, Pakistan has a rich legacy of milk and Nestlé is one of the leading food and beverages companies in the country. Therefore, a large part of Drops of the Divine highlights the contributions of Nestlé to Pakistan’s dairy sector, ever since they partnered with MilkPak Limited in 1988.
“We wanted to create a book that showcased the efforts of the major players in the industry in an aesthetic way,” says Noor Sheikh, who wrote the book.
As a result, Drops of the Divine has been written in a conversational style and the text is accompanied by photographs taken by Kohi Marri and Amna Zuberi.
“The images have been curated from multiple on-site photography shoots to take the reader ‘behind the scenes’ of the industry,” says Sheikh. The photographs capture myriad scenes from rural and urban Pakistan, ranging from livestock, doodhwalas, roadside cafés serving lassi to posh homes where milk is served, in addition to factories where milk is processed and packaged.
Several issues are preventing the industry from realising its full potential (they include feed contamination and an excessive use of antibiotics) and have been highlighted in the book, in addition to the fact that the dairy industry provides employment to millions of people across Pakistan.
According to Ahmad, given the pivotal role Nestlé Pakistan has played in developing the dairy industry, the organisation was able to provide the author and publisher with access to numerous sources for research, including institutions and government departments that support the dairy industry, as well as personalities such as Syed Babar Ali and Syed Yawar Ali, who established the first milk-processing plant in Pakistan.
For Sheikh, immense research was required and this posed a significant challenge because any available data on the industry provided little link between the current state of affairs and the historical development of the industry.
“Most of the information was in the form of policy papers or academic articles; it was essential to break the technical and complex processes down into a reader-friendly format which would be understood by people with no background of the dairy industry,” she says.
Despite these challenges, the book has successfully captured the history and the evolution of the industry, as well as the various stages that currently lead to milk production in Pakistan (including the value and supply chains). Furthermore, the book provides insights into the problems that key players in the dairy sector face at these stages, such as procuring healthy animals from whom the milk is sourced, enlisting qualified animal caretakers and ensuring that hygiene standards are maintained in order to produce pure and healthy milk. Another aspect the book touches upon is debunking common misconceptions about packaged milk (a substantial portion of Pakistan’s population still uses khulla doodh, delivered to their doorsteps by the gawala) by providing detailed information about the systems in place at milk-processing factories to ensure that it is healthy for consumption.
The book sheds light on how processors, technicians and farmers are working together to bring change and innovation into the sector, as well as the future of the milk industry and policies needed to take it forward.
In addition to these aspects of milk production, Drops of the Divine highlights the opportunities and challenges that exist within the dairy industry. These have been included in order to influence policymakers and stakeholders to take the required measures to boost the dairy industry – which is one of the primary contributors to Pakistan’s economy.
According to Ahmed, several issues are preventing the industry from realising its full potential; they include feed contamination and an excessive use of antibiotics and have been highlighted in the book, in addition to the fact that the dairy industry provides employment to millions of people across Pakistan.
Finally, the book sheds light on how processors, technicians and farmers are working together to bring change and innovation into the sector, as well as the future of the milk industry and policies needed to take it forward.
In addition to what can be termed “technical and historic details” about the dairy sector, Drops of the Divine also includes recipes of milk-based desserts. These range from badam kheer, coconut and pineapple cream cake to jalebis and shahi tukray, and will be of interest to the general public.
Ultimately, the book, in the words of Wan Ling Martello, Executive Vice President, Chief Executive Officer Zone Asia, Oceania and sub-Saharan Africa, Nestlé S.A., who wrote the foreword, “is a tribute to the dairy farmers who care for their cattle day in, day out, and whose efforts allow Nestlé to provide ‘quality you can trust’.”