Written By Aarav Bindawala (Grade 10)
Milk today is an inalienable ingredient of Indian cuisine. India is the largest producer and consumer of milk in the world, but over seventy years ago the farmers that produced this milk had irregular and barely profitable incomes. Over the course of 76 years, Amul has developed from a small group of striking farmers to a household brand in India. Its success in empowering 3.6 million villagers and supplying affordable dairy products to the Indian consumer is a testament of the ability of a few leaders and entrepreneurs to revolutionise the lives of the citizens of a nation.
The British had left India’s economic condition weak, having drained most of the subcontinent’s resources, the newly formed India was left to deal with unfair trading practices, monopolies and widespread poverty. Milk in Mumbai was mainly controlled by the monopolistic British dairy company named Polson. Milk prices were not fixed nor were they stable, the middlemen could buy the milk at dirt-cheap prices and supply this milk to a processing company for enormous profits. There was also the problem of surplus production which caused enormous wastage. This agitated the farmers who went to Sardar Patel for help. He advised them to form a cooperative. The farmers requested the government for cooperatives to be set up in all villages of the Kaira district which would further federate into a single union. The government did not accept the farmer’s proposal and the farmers resorted to holding a milk strike. Morarji Desai was sent to Kaira by Sardar Patel to organise the milk cooperative. The strike lasted for 15 days and the government finally had to accept the proposal. Tribhuvandas Kishibhai Patel, the founder of Amul organised the farmers and set up a cooperative under the name Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers Union and began trying to find a way of processing the milk produced by them. At the helm of the White Revolution was Verghese Kurien, an engineer who had been assigned by the government to a creamery at Anand, in Gujarat for five years. He had just quit his job when Tribhuvandas Patel asked for his help to set up his dairy cooperative. He soon became the general manager and handled the marketing and managerial tasks for Amul. Unlike European countries, most milk produced in India came from buffalos. This was a problem since buffalo milk could not be processed into a powder. This limited the milk’s lifespan and prevented Amul from spreading to markets all over the country. H.M.Dalaya a friend of Kurien was brought in to join the effort in Anand. In 1955, Dalaya invented the process for creating skim milk powder from buffalo milk. The cooperative model spread all over villages in Gujarat and Kurien federated them into the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd which sold its products under the brand Amul.
By 1964 the Amul model of milk production had become such a success that Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri after a visit to Anand set up the National Dairy Development Board to replicate and nurture the Amul model for the development of farmers nationwide. NDDB started Operation Flood in 1970 which would quadruple milk supply over 30 years with Dr Kurien as its leader. Modern-day Amul is the largest producer of milk in the world, it ranks as India’s largest agricultural cooperative. Its revolutionary model has generated huge growth for India’s dairy industry and has enriched millions of lives, truly making it the ‘Taste of India’.
Featured Image Courtesy – Wikipedia