How close is the Telangana State in replicating the success story of Anand or the Amul pattern of robust milk cooperatives of dairy farmers, procurement, assured market, technology and quality control system?
The refrain of the representatives of dairy farmers is that though it may look like a distant dream, it is not an impossible task given the resourcefulness of the farmers and the potential held by the dairy sector in Telangana. “Dairy farmers in Telangana are already producing 30 lakh litres of milk a day but most of it is in unorganised sector. All it requires is the government’s intervention in reviving the cooperatives and infusion of capital and technology for setting up processing plants and bulk milk coolers,” says K. Bal Reddy, general secretary of the Progressive Dairy Farmers Association.
Of the 30 lakh litres, the share of the State owned milk federation that sells Vijaya brand of milk and byproducts, is just about 4 lakh litres. The private milk industry produces about 12 lakh litres leaving the remaining bulk of the production to the unorganised sector, where dairy farmers produce and supply milk directly to consumers in urban and rural areas.
“Though there is lot of demand with Hyderabad city itself requiring 25 lakh litres daily, the Federation’s share of 4 lakh litres is very low. Its share will go up phenomenally if the government lends support,” Mr. Reddy asserts. Already the government’s announcement of Rs. 4 a litre as incentive last year has enthused dairy farmers and some of them have shifted their loyalties from private industry to the federation, though there was considerable delay in the release of the incentive amount.
Experts have been emphasising the need for giving a big push to dairy farming in Telangana both to fight drought conditions and wean farmers away from taking extreme step of ending their lives in times of agrarian crisis. Over 1,500 farmers have committed suicide during the last dry season caught in the cycle of borewell and crop failure and debt trap. Dairy as an allied sector to agriculture could have come in handy for them to tide over the crisis.
In contrast to measly production of 30 lakh litres in Telangana, Amul pattern involved over 200 lakh litres and Nandini brand of Karnataka Milk Cooperative Federation accounted for 70 lakh litres. Considering the projection that Hyderabad alone may require 50 lakh litres of milk by 2020, it was time that Telangana government revived milk cooperatives, kept its promise of starting mega processing plant near Hyderabad and sets up a chain of bulk milk coolers all over the State, Mr. Reddy added.