Dr Kurien walk the talk

We all remembered Dr Kurien on his eighth death anniversary on September 9th. It is quite apt to revisit the key principles which he  so fondly embeded in the DNA of  of NDDB and later operation flood program.

Dr Kurien shared three golden principles tin his autobiography which paved the way of dairy development in India. These are as follows :

  1. Production of milk is of no meaning without a ready market.
  2. Procurement of milk and market demand are not rigidly linked with each other.
  3. Procurement activities must be carried out by focussing at the markets with a capacity to give enough profits to the farmers.

Anand could not have existed without Mumbai. But Anand could not have been developed in close proximity to the Mumbai market either. Had Anand be in close proximity to Mumbai then it  would have met the same fate as that of  few government run dairies which got established at the epicenter of large cities.

Milk Procurement and markets are to be distant apart

Principally you can not keep the milk procurement closer to the place of consumption . In that case you would end up fiercely competing with the milk aggregators on one hand and with the petty milk vendors at the market place.

Cooperatives are formed above the bedrock of integrity, Which could not be guaranteed  with the other unorganized players at the market place. The underlying context of these three principles lies in trusting the farmer’s wisdom to continuously produce the crop which gives him enough of profits.

No other program in the world created Rs 24000 Crores per annum of farmer’s income over a decade with a petty support of Rs 200 Crore by the world bank. Today’s dairy industry would  never be able to measure the true depth of understanding and horizon of vision of Dr V Kurien.

Legendary outcome of Dr Kurien’s vision

The outcome of Operation flood program from 1980-81 till 2018-19 have brought about the following development Cooperative dairying in the country.

a. Milk producer societies   : 14 folds

b. Enrolled farmers with cooperative societies : 10 folds

c. Milk Procurement : 20 folds

d. Liquid marketing : 13 folds

Dr Kurien has also inspired the private sector in India to tread the path of cooperatives. Today in  we  also have  an equally large network of cooperatives, milk collection and processing of milk in the private sector also. Dr Kurien was like a catalyst. He was the reason of the big bang of Indian dairy sector.

At this moment , I  remember a famous quote by Mehmet Murat ildan  which says that

“Every time you discover the beauties of this world, you are reborn!”

I believe that looking at the way our dairy cooperatives have made progress, Dr Kurien must have taken birth somewhere to cherish the same.

Now moving forward we need to reimagine the tasks in front of Dr Kurien. I feel him around to be there , amongst us today.  People in the industry have already started to feel the need of another Dr Kurien looking at  today’s environment.

Current national dairy scenario

The cooperatives, which he created with so much of love and dedication, are ready to take on each other in fierce battle at the market place. The farmers are on roads. The concepts of feeder balancing dairies and milk sheds are finding no place in the national dairy policies.

Almost 50 % of the milk sold by the organized sector in nearly 1100 cities across the nation is not meeting the regulatory requirements of FSSAI . Huge stocks of SMP and butter are acting as a biggest impediment to the farmer’s getting good price of milk.

In Dr Kurien’s times the same stocks were captured from the developed world. These stocks were later used for the dairy development in India.

The consumer is not sure of the quality of milk at his home . He has already started to explore the possibilities of shifting to dairy alternatives.

The policy makers at government departments are still obsessed with animal husbandry, breeding and vaccination programs . They are ready to infuse any amount of money to ensure productivity with local breeds. Markets and Food safety does not look to be high on their priorities.

I am not sure if any one is looking at the dairy development from the lenses of above captioned three principles . Dr Kurien used to follow these while crafting future of dairying in India.

The plausible way ahead

Trying to use the same lenses the three key areas requiring immediate attention in next 5-10 years are as follows :

  1. We have done enough with farmers cooperatives at both public and private sector level. Now it is the time to enroll the petty milk vendors with the cooperatives and skill them. The skilling must be for the art of delivering safe milk to consumers after collecting safe milk from the farmers. Let him be the true representative of the farmers  for the households/sweetshops which still believe in consuming raw milk. Neither we could ignore them nor remove them as they are huge in numbers.
  • Let there be no subsidy to the farmers for producing milk. Dr Kurien never advocated for subsidy of any sort. He always talked about the judicious use of any aid to make the farmers self reliant and self dependent. Most of the federations which are paying subsidy are actually creating an uneven level playing field for other players . It could be compared with what Polson was doing with Kheda cooperative . As he was having monopoly to supply milk to the Bombay milk scheme.
  • This is high time for the policy maker to first develop a protocol for running dairy business in the country using the Anand model only and then to enroll every public sector, private sector, FPO, entrepreneur, foundations to follow the same model and make India the milk pail of the world.

I would also like to thank the team behind audio book on autobiography of Dr Kurien  , titled the man who made elephants dance. I would recommend all of you to listen to the great journey of Indian dairy development through the link http://www.drkurien.com/content/audio-book-man-who-made-elephant-dance

A blog by Kuldeep Sharma