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The Kerala Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (KCMMF), which owns the popular dairy brand Milma, has come out strongly against the Centre’s move to bring in private sector representation in the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), terming it as an ‘attempt to infringe’ on the autonomy of the body.

The proposal to induct representatives from private dairies in the board of directors of NDDB will seriously harm the co-operative dairy movement in the country, said KS Mani, Chairman, KCMMF. The ministry has sought suggestions and comments on the proposed amendments, which also includes a proposal to appoint an additional director representing the private dairy industry, to be nominated for three years.

The directors nominated to NDDB will also be ex-officio directors in the boards of subsidiary companies. Milma will convey to the Centre its strong reservations against the proposed amendments as they would seriously affect the autonomy of NDDB and harm the interests of millions of dairy farmers and the dairy cooperative movement as a whole. Milma will also seek the intervention of the state government to exert pressure on the Centre to abandon the move by putting across its stand on the issue.

“Despite being a largely agrarian population, India became the world’s leading milk producing nation purely due to the systematic, scientific and visionary initiatives of NDDB”, said Mani. Instead of inducting representatives from the private sector dairies into NDDB, the central government should urge the private dairies to utilize the vast technical knowledge and rich domain expertise and experience of NDDB, by drafting in top officials of NDDB into their director boards, he suggested.

“Private dairies are highly resourceful when compared to the dairy cooperatives and have been progressing in the country on their own. The proposal to include representatives from private dairies in the NDDB’s director board would lead to diffusion of focus on dairy cooperatives,” he said.

As per an office memorandum of the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying under the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, amendments to the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) Act, 1987, have been proposed to ensure better management and monitoring of the functions of the Board. The amendments also propose to replace the words “the co-operative strategy” (sub-section 1, clause b) in the Section 16 of the Act with “and other plans for the development of the dairy sector” and the words “public sector” (sub-section 2, clause b) with the words “or any other organisation”.

“The proposed government control in policy and administrative matters of NDDB would infringe on the autonomy of the dairy board, hamper its initiatives and vision to make India self- sufficient in milk production through a nationwide dairy cooperative movement”, the Milma Chairman said. Dubbing the proposal as ‘unfortunate’ and especially ‘disadvantageous’ to the rural dairy sector, Mani also said the political interference resulting from this could also hinder the efforts of the dairy board to channel resources to the most deserving beneficiaries. NDDB was formed with the objective of pan-India development of the dairy cooperative sector and the success of Amul in Gujarat was so influential that the soul and spirit of the model were replicated throughout the country as the Anand pattern, he recalled. The proposed amendment to bring in private representation can hamper the board’s core function of ‘replicating Anand pattern dairy cooperatives across the country’.

“The NDDB is still performing this function, but there is a long way to go in making a strong and sustainable Anand pattern dairy cooperative network pan-India,” he said. The White Revolution in the country and the resultant rural progress were possible only because of the trust governments had in NDDB. This was instrumental in bringing about a major socio-economic uplift of the rural poor through the dairy cooperative networks. The proposed amendments also run against the vision of Dr. V Kurien, the Milk Man of India, who devoted a lifetime to liberating the poor dairy farmers and the country’s dairy economy, Mani noted, urging the Union Government to give up the proposed amendments that could adversely impact lakhs of dairy farmers.

Source : The Economic Times Feb 09,2022

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