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Millennium Post

Paradigm shift to erase dairy disparities

It is a heartening news to relish that our  own  Mother  Dairy  has reached Yale, USA, but the sector still has disparities. We can remember the ‘Milkman of India’  - Verghese Kurien  - who left a legacy in form of a successful model in field of dairying to be reproduced all over India. Traditional approaches to gain benefits from mutual cooperation have worked well in some parts of the country, but integration with modern marketing system fails to exhibit the  same  results everywhere. The cooperative dairy movement of 1970s became the instrument of change in import reduction of dairy products underpinning import substitution policy of the country, poverty alleviation, creation of jobs in non-agriculture sector and inculcating commercial approach in the traditional area of animal husbandry.

Dairy development as a strategy to enhance income of rural poor entails the cause and effect patterns of a successful adoption model in other dissimilar areas, with reference to political and administrative environment by comparative organisational structures prevailing therein. This can also be one of the ways of empirical strengthening of ideas on the vastly differentiated geographical areas of our country producing maximum milk in the world but with low per capita consumption. Cooperative movement was in fact considered a milestone in Indian planning process for increasing people’s participation in planning and economic wellbeing of larger segment of the society. Exploitation of farmers producing surplus milk by deciding low prices and then compelling them to sell their products at minimum cost, though remains a constant phenomenon.

Operation Flood, launched in July 1970, is still considered a milestone of success story of Indian dairy development. UN and FAO called it one of the most promising events in the field of rural development since it expanded production, processing, marketing and professional manage capabilities in villages and metropolitan centres. The project than was positioned in a social context with developmental objectives and an emphasis on grass root level participation with objective of arrangingprofits for those who were economically and socially backward in  the social system full of  hierarchies.

As a result, India surpassed USA to become largest producer of milk in the world with production volume of 84 million tons in 2001 but annual milk yield per dairy animal remained one tenth of the yield in US and one fifth of the yield of a New Zealand dairy. Any progress of the sector would automatically enhance balanced development of rural economy. Amenities to farmers, better veterinary services and creation of new dairy processing plants offer prospectus to capture potential markets for milk distribution. Consumption of dairy products especially has become relevant for large vegetarian segment of Indian population as an alternative source of animal protein.

Product demands of vegetarians now need new interventions in the form of increased milk production. It can be a realistic approach to re-establish traditional forms of mutual support in modern mechanisms.
 More efficient systems exist   in less milk producing states than the larger ones in size and population. UP produces 16 per cent of the national milk compared to 18 per cent by of Punjab having 2 per cent of the population of country.Per capita availability of milk in UP is less by 50 per cent compared to Punjab. Milk consumed on farm is two third of total production and rest of it go to informal channel of markets run by private traders. Economy based on agricultural expansion and management of other related occupations are necessary to present better future perspectives for rural poor. Increase in rural household income translates in to better chance of respectful life and bridges gaps of inequality. Even after receiving a substantial amount of loans and grants, marketing still remains domain of small traders who maximise profit with corrupt practices. Small producers after retaining milk for self-consumption sell the product to middlemen for below market price due to liabilities such as repayment of loans for purchase of animals and for performing social obligations.

The buyer sells milk directly to consumers and in market for processing and conversion to bye-products through informal and formal market agencies. Exploitation of farmers occurs due to lack of marketing facilities for perishable item like milk and compels rural households to sell their product to middleman on lesser prices in the absence of robust marketing infrastructure.
Attributed adoption in this case for replication without considering local situations may cause failure. A plan successful in one area may not necessarily be successful in other area. Use of state apparatus as macroeconomic policy instrument has several implications and public institution should work for creating marketing environment to generate competition.

Efforts should not concentrate on over employment in institutions but one should try to maximize profit of small land holder and landless labour by promoting enterprise efficiency.  In power structure based society cooperatives can develop efficiency. Kurien was of view that dairy owned and managed by farmers through elected board hired himas professional manager and he could be removed by the power of people.
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