New Delhi: World Milk Day is just around the corner on June 1. It is one more occasion to acknowledge the enormous health benefits of the drink. We humans just cannot do without milk. It is deeply rooted in our civilisation. The children who take birth are first fed with milk until they are ready for intake of solid food. There is a lot we know about milk yet there is very less to write as most of us know well about the drink.
One of the greatest sights from mythology is Lord Krishna’s childhood pic with his hands full of makhan (butter). That is how he grew up in Gokul. It was a prosperous village with cattles in almost all houses. Little Krishna would steal makhan from all the houses and eat them. He was in habit of doing so. Those days as we know, women of the houses would also prepare makhan with all love and store them in their houses.
The picture of Bal Gopal, as we fondly call little Krishna, can be found in many homes today and is often worshipped by people. This is how milk and its products are part of our civilisation. But despite this fact, there was a time when India struggled to keep up with the demands of the households. Yes, that is true. There was a need to do something about it. Prior to that time, only the prosperous households who could nurture cattle could get milk in surplus.
That is how things were and there was a dire need to organise milk production in India. But there were still challenges in dealing with it. The farmers needed to be convinced about milk farming. The incentives has to be designed in such a manner that they could feel encouragement and agree towards doing milk farming.
Former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri was once in Anand, Gujarat to inaugurate Cattle Feed Factory of Amul (Anand Milk Union Limited) at Kanjari. During that visit in 1964, he had spend a whole night with farmers and was very happy knowing about the success of the co-operative. He was so enthused by the progress, he wished to the General Manager of Amul Dr Varghese Kurien to replicate this model to rest of India as it would be a win-win situation both for consumers and farmers as well. He saw the scope of improving the socio-economic conditions of farmers in India.
PM Shastri was also known for his astute way of leadership as he was so particular about the farmers and defence personnel. Incidentally, he was the one who gave the slogan - Jai Jawan Jai Kisan around that time only. PM Shastri had established National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) at Anand in 1965. Dr Kurien was given the responsibility to take it forward. By 1970, the NDDB had launched the dairy development programme for India – popularly known as Operation Flood. It completely changed the face of India.
The availability of milk and socio-economic conditions of farmers both have been taken care of well. As per the data of NDDB until 2013, dairy cooperatives generated employment opportunities for about 15 million farm families. Livestock contributed 22.4 per cent to the GDP from agriculture and allied activities and about 22.45 million people work in livestock sector, which is around 5.8 per cent of the total work force in the country.
The milk production grew leaps and bounds since the time of formation of the NDDB. India's milk production increased from 21.2 million MT in 1968-69 to 66.2 million MT in 1995-96 and to 132.4 million (estimate) MT in 2012-13. Per capita availability of milk was estimated around 297 grams per day in 2012-13 increased from 195 grams per day in 1995-96, up from 112 grams per day in 1968-69. India’s milk production increased around 4.4 per cent annually during 2002-03 to 2012-13 surpassing the 1.6 per cent growth in population; the net increase in availability is around 2.8 per cent per year.
Till 2013, the dairy co-operative network in India included 183 milk unions and operated in over 418 districts. It covers 1,55,634 village level societies and is owned by about 15.1 million farmer members, of which more than 4.3 millions are women.
The famous milk co-operatives of different states are – Amul in Gujarat, Nandini in Karnataka, Mother Dairy in Delhi and UP, Dudhsagar in Gujarat, Milma in Kerala, Aavin in Tamil Nadu, Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh, OMFED in Odisha, Sudha in Bihar, Verka in Punjab, Parag in Uttar Pradesh, Saras in Rajasthan, Visakha Dairy in Andhra Pradesh, Goa Dairy in Goa, Mahanand in Maharashtra, Benmilk in West Bengal etc.
It is because of the Operation Flood that India has become self-sufficient in milk and milk products through modernisation of the dairy industry. Moreover, it has also positively impacted the income, employment and nutrition status of milk producing households. The families who got associated in the Operation Flood were small resource base both in terms of animal and land holdings. It has improved in great deal over the years.