The National Dairy Development Board was formed in 1965 to start farmer-run milk cooperatives across the country on the lines of the Kaira Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union, popular as Brand Amul, at Anand in Gujarat’s Kheda district. The Kaira union, set up in 1946, was the product of one man’s fight against traders who exploited farmers. That man, Tribhuvandas Kishibhai Patel, was instrumental in picking, in 1950, Verghese Kurien who would take forward his mission of bringing about a milk revolution in India.
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Kurien began Operation Flood in 1970, and by the time the “milk man of India” retired as the Chairman of NDDB in 1998, India had 81,000 dairy cooperatives similar to Amul. From a position of stagnant milk production in the 1950s and 1960s, India today contributes 23 per cent of global production (global: 906 million tonnes in 2020; India: 209.96 million tonnes, 2020-21).
This stupendous achievement was made possible by institutions such as the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF). Set up in 1973, it has 3.64 producer members across 18 district cooperative milk producers’ unions; collects an average 26.3 million litres of milk a day (2021); and is the largest exporter of dairy products in India.
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The experiment spread across States, and as of 2019, India had over 1,90,000 dairy coops, with brands such as Aavin, Nandini, Vijaya, and Mother Dairy.