Tribute to Milkman of India

Dr Mandeep Singh Azad, Dr Preeti
In India, November 26 is celebrated as National Milk Day, since 2014, to commemorate the birthday of the father of India’s White Revolution, Dr Verghese Kurien (also nicknamed as Milkman of India). The day celebrates the importance of milk in a person’s life and also, to promote the benefits related to the milk and milk industry This day is celebrated to create awareness among people about the importance of milk and milk products. This year, India is celebrating the 100th birth anniversary of Dr. Kurien. Verghese Kurien (26 November 1921 – 9 September 2012), known as the “Father of the White Revolution” in India, was a social entrepreneur whose “billion-litre idea”, Operation Flood, made dairy farming India’s largest self-sustaining industry and the largest rural employment sector providing a third of all rural income. It made India the world’s largest milk producer, doubled the milk available for each person, and increased milk output four-fold in 30 years. He pioneered the Anand model of dairy cooperatives and replicated it nationwide, based on various “top-down” and “bottom-up” approaches, where no milk from a farmer was refused and 70-80% of the price by consumers was paid in cash to dairy farmers who controlled the marketing, procurement, and processing of milk and milk products as the dairy’s owners. An invention at Amul was the production of milk powder from buffalo milk instead of from cow milk, which was in short supply in India.He also made India self-sufficient in edible oils and fought against the “oil kings”, who used underhanded and violent methods to enforce their dominance over the oilseed industry.
Kurien was born into a wealthy Syrian Christian family. He attended Loyola College of the University of Madras (B.Sc., 1940), and he earned another bachelor’s degree, in mechanical engineering, from the same university in 1943. He also studied engineering at the Tata Iron and Steel Company in Jamshedpur, then in Bihar state, and he undertook training in dairy engineering at the National Dairy Research Institute of Bangalore (now Bengaluru). Kurien received a government scholarship to study at Michigan State University, where he received (1948) a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. When he returned to India, he was required, as a condition of the scholarship, to work at the Government Research Creamery in Anand, Gujarat state, which he began doing in 1949.
The ability to domesticate animals and reap the benefits of milk is a man’s greatest success story. Ten thousand years ago, when humans were still hunters, someone was smart enough to say ‘wait, don’t kill these animals. Use them for milk’. Whoever that person was, he was certainly one of the greatest geniuses in human history. The success story of milk has continued undeterred since and that in itself is proof of its benefits, efficacy and safety.India is the leading producer and consumer of milk across the globe. The Indian dairy sector is divided into the organized and mostly unorganized (75%). There is a need for investment, especially for the small and marginal dairy farmers to catalyze Indian dairy production and exports.India has the largest bovine population of over 300 million, producing 198.4 million tonnes of milk in 2019-20. Despite COVID-19 induced restrictions, the organized sector is projected for a 5-6% growth i.e. Rs 1.5 lakh crore sectoral revenue generation in 2021-22.In the previous year 2020-21, the VAPs (value-added products) and sales dropped due to pandemic-induced restrictions. However, continuity of food delivery and increase in household consumption has led to a surge in demand for VAPs and liquid milk in 2021-22. This shall also lead to increased procurement prices.Though there is a marginal increase in the export value from the previous year, India has managed to secure an export value of Rs 1,358.29 crores of dairy products for the year 2020-21, with the biggest market for Indian dairy products being the UAE.There is a need for investment for educating and training dairy farmers and provide better infrastructure for collection, transportation, and processing of milk to augment milk productivity and maintain its quality.
Indian milk industry: Looking ahead
According to the figures in a NITI Aayog report, India’s milk production is again set to nearly double over the next decade, with the increase in supply far outpacing the demand. This could pave the way for a massive ramp up of exports. The government is trying to set up village-level dairy infrastructure under the National Action Plan on Dairy Development to increase the share of organised milk handling.Milk production expected to increase to around 330 million tonnes in next 10 years. Increase in milk supply pegged to exceed demand by 38 million tonnes in 10 years.Plan to increase organised milk handling to 41 per cent next year; to 50 per cent in 3 years. Milk procurement by cooperatives expected to rise to 20 per cent in 2023 from 10 per cent in 2020.Private sector’s role in milk procurement projected to rise to 30 per cent by 2023.The success of the dairy industry has resulted from the integrated co-operative system of milk collection, transportation, processing and distribution, conversion of the same to milk powder and products, to minimize seasonal impact on suppliers and buyers, retail distribution of milk and milk products, sharing of profits with the farmer, which are ploughed back to enhance productivity and needs to be emulated by other farm produce/producers.
What are main Concerns
Despite having the largest bovine population, the milk production per animal is significantly low as compared to other dairy-producing countries like the US and the UK. India’s productivity per animal is very meagre, at 987 kg per lactation, compared with the global average of 2038 kg per lactation. This is due to less effective cattle and buffalo breeding programmmes, limited extension and management on dairy enterprise development, traditional feeding practices that are not based on scientific feeding methods, and limited availability and affordability of quality feed and fodder. Moreover, a major portion of the produce is consumed domestically. Dairy farmers lack awareness when it comes to using scientific and healthy animal husbandry practices. Small and marginal farmers indulge in malpractices such as feeding low-quality fodder, using unsterile equipment for artificial insemination, failure to provide timely veterinary services, etc. There is a need for imparting knowledge and training the dairy farmers for this purpose.The quality of the our milk should be of international standard which can be attained through screening of the livestock against important diseases and maintaining clean surroundings in the dairy farm.