Milk and the making of India
Milk as a consumption item has never failed to excite India. But it was Dr. Kurien who give a new impetus to the supply side of milk as well. He did this through the NDDB (National Dairy Development Board) and the GCMMF (Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation). And he created the Indian version of the milk cooperative movement which has transformed this country.
The results are visible – India is the premier producer as well as the largest consumer worldwide. That, too, with smallfarmers – each having between 2-10 heads of cattle as a backyard dairy farming. More significantly, this industry grew with practically no subsidy from the government.
What makes the Indian milk movement unique is its ability to pay 80% of the market price to the farmer. Kurien ensured that everything else – milk collection, processing, packaging, distribution and marketing – was managed within 20% of the marketing cost. That made the farmer earn more, which incentivized him to produce more. For Kurien the small farmer was crucial. He believed in production by the masses, not mass production.
Milk thus provides income for farmers, nutrition for Indians, and rural prosperity for the economy. With Modi’s vision of doubling rural incomes, milk is bound to play a bigger role.
To discuss this, the FPJ-IMC Forum organized a panel discussion with experts at the Indian Merchants Chamber, Mumbai. The panel comprised T. Nanda Kumar, Chairman, NDDB; R.S. Sodhi, Managing Director, GCMMF; (popularly referred to as Amul); Mahesh Pathak, Principal Secretary Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development & Fisheries, Government of Maharashtra; and Madan Sabnavis, Chief Economist, CARE. The event was moderated by R.N.Bhaskar of FPJ with editorial support from Pankaj Joshi, and Lalit Wadhwani.
The welcome address was given by Dilip Piramal, president, Indian Merchants’ Chamber (IMC, and the Vote of thanks by G.Chandrashekhar, Economics Advisor, IMC.
I sincerely thank you all for sparing your valuable time to participate in today’s discussion.
A few words now about the Indian Merchants’ Chamber. Set up in 1907, it is a century old chamber of trade, commerce and industry in the country with headquarters in Mumbai.
It has around 2,700 direct members, comprising a diverse cross-section of the business community, including public and private limited companies and over 220 trade and industry associations. It has a vibrant ladies wing of around 2,000 members, an Economic Research and Training Foundation, The Ramkrishna Bajaj Quality Award Trust and a Young Leaders Forum. Overall, it reaches out to around 250,000 diverse businesses in the country.
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