Milk Federations in India should re-dedicate themselves to the founding ideals of the co-operative dairy movement that envisioned each state striving its best to build a robust and strife-free dairy sector while refraining from inter-state competition, said K S Mani, Chairman, Kerala Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (KCMMF), known by the brand Milma.
In an article on World Milk Day, observed on June 1, Mani said the milk cooperatives in India were groomed in the1970s by taking into account the circumstances prevailing in each state based on co-operative and federal principles.
“This was a path-breaking initiative, backed by goals such as higher milk production and stronger generation of employment. The bottom line was to end malnutrition,” he noted. “India is now world’s largest milk producer and milk co-operatives have contributed immensely in achieving this. They have flourished by adhering to the co-operative and federal principles while upholding the interests of the consumers and welfare of the dairy farmers in their home states.
But unfortunately, of late, there have been attempts by some milk federations to transgress the limits set by these founding ideals by marketing liquid milk beyond their borders. At the end of the day, this will lead to serious consequences to the dairy co-operative movement in the country as a whole, Mani said.
“Some cooperatives are behaving much like monopolistic firms in capitalist economies. Such activities are a threat to India’s spirit of cooperative federalism. This serious issue will be discussed at an imminent meeting of the National Dairy Development Board. Cooperatives, including Milma, are looking forward to the meeting with immense hope. We are charting out a strategy to counter this threat by sticking to the spirit of cooperatives,” Mani said.
Dairy farmers in Kerala have deep anxieties about the recent influx of milk from other states. Adding to their worries, vested interests have started spreading rumors that price of milk sold by other states are less compared to that of Milma. Dairy farmers have always been Milma’s overriding priority, as was evident from its recent price revision that ensured that the large chunk of the benefits went to the farmer, Mani said.
Noting that Kerala is on the verge of achieving self-sufficiency in milk production, he said Milma is working on an ambitious project to increase the export of its products, considering the nostalgia that expatriates have for Milma. ‘Wherever there’s a Malayali, there must be Milma’, is our motto.
The 2023 World Milk Day theme is ‘Sustainable Dairy: Good for the Planet, Good for You’, which emphasizes on adoption of sustainable practices by the dairy sector to reduce the ecological costs when the planet is faced with the ill-effects of climate change. At the same time, the milk co-operatives should also take up efforts to produce and supply sufficient quantities of high-quality milk considering its nutritional value, Mani added.