No possibility of import of milk in the near future: T Nanda Kumar, Chairman, NDDB

No possibility of import of milk in the near future: T Nanda Kumar, Chairman, NDDB

T Nanda Kumar, former union food and agriculture secretary, took over chairmanship of National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in March, 2014  from Amrita Patel, who held the post for 15 years. In 1965, NDDB was set up through an act of Parliament for replicating the success of the ‘Amul’ in other parts of the country. Kumar spoke to www.indianagribusiness.com on the critical challenges faced by both dairy sector as well cooperatives in sustaining country’s milk production.

Q: What has been key challenges faced by the dairy sector at present? Elaborate on the current trend and future prospects of the country’s milk production?

In 2012-13, we produced about 132 million tonne of milk. In the last fiscal, we have a milk output of 138 milllion tonne. The output is expected to grow at this rate which implies adding about 6 million tonne of extra milk production annually. The reason is that the demand for dairy products would continue to increase in next five to six years. We need to continuously increase milk production and it has to sustainable. The processed dairy products will have bigger growth than the processed milk as a liquid after say about five to six years. I do not see possibility of import of milk in the near future.

Q: What the key steps NDDB initiated to sustain the country’s milk production?

One of the key focus of our work is improvement in the genetic potential of animals. We intend to do it by a combination of factors – primarily focusing on high genetic merit indigenous cattle, production of high genetic merit bulls, improve artificial insemination etc. The major portion of our intervention will on good indigenous breeds also need to get some exotic breeds from outside from certain specific areas. We will import high genetic merit bulls to an extent and see that the breed improves. This will be done by a very clearly defined breeding policy of state governments.

Q: What about improving the feed quality for the animals and ongoing programme on assessing the feed and health need of the animals for augmenting milk production?

A: Traditionally, our farmers feed animals agricultural waste and thats the way the sustainable economics work for the farmers. We have found out that there are some ingredients which have to supplemented in the cattle feed, which led to increase in milk yield. We have initiated a IT based Information Network for Animal Productivity and Health (INAPH) which had been developed in collaboration with software major Infosys. It covers areas such as productivity enhancement including animal registration and identification, artificial insemination services, milk yield recording and rational balancing of diet.

We have the local resource persons a chunk of them are women and they measure the milk yield, capture the breed characteristics, and feed that is being given. Based on the data that an advice is given to the farmer for balancing the feed. We have been able to achieve two objectives through INAPH. One is the reduction in the cost of feed. Farmer are feeding the cows much more essential elements than needed and what is a crucial feed ingredient is missing. On an average we have been able to reduced to cost of feed. Through balancing of feed, one side we have reduced expenditure on the feed on the other hand increased income for the farmers through increase in milk yield. The key challenges are that each animal has to be tagged. We have already covered 2.7 million animals. We have given note book to local resource person for capturing the data. We will cover 40,000 villages covered through INAPH shortly. The programme is being implemented through cooperative milk federations and unions funded under National Dairy Plan. We have covered 14 states we have started with 200 villages in each milk union. We are considering involving the state governments in expanding the programme through their cost.

Q: What are aspects critical in the dairy sector relating to organsied marketing?

We seeking to promoted Farmers Producers Organisations (FPO), as Cooperatives become a rigid structure. The key is to ensure that atleast 75% of consumer’ rupee goes back to farmers. So far good cooperatives have ensured that and some of efficiently run Cooperatives have given by even 80% of consumer’ rupee to the farmers. This a critical point in milk management. The other issue is involve services into fold of milk cooperatives like animal health services, rational feed intakes. Some of these aspects have to be added into the role of cooperatives and farmers producers organisations which is currently missing.

Q: What are the thrust on protecting animals health which as emerged as key concern?

The overriding thrust is animal health which is with states governments for which we keep a close watch all the time. Any outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) that happened last year in southern India can be absolute dampener in whatever we are doing. There are couple of challenges on delivery side of vaccination would have to take place on time and we need to educate the farmers about lower milk yield during vaccinations period. The farmers have to understand in the large interest of the health of the animal.

Q: How do you assess the performance of state cooperatives and milk unions in ensuring production and distribution milk in the last few decades?

Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan have done well. Bihar and Kerala have shown improvement in recent years. Odisha is showing signs of recovery. We see a lot of potential as alignment with Eastern Indian Green Revolution initiatives would be imperative. Eastern regions have more water thus more paddy cultivation. Thus logical thing in the region is animal husbandry as we see a lot of potential in Odisha, Bihar and West Bengal for next big growth in dairy.

Q: Why have big cooperatives in bigger states such as Uttar Pradesh?

The Uttar Pradesh Cooperative movements have not done well probably because of some problem. What we understand is that the payment to farmers are not done in time. That can be biggest disadvantage for any cooperatives. Ultimately any cooperative would succeed if payments are transparent and made in time. The movement, we lose that connect we are asking for trouble.

Q: NDDB has been promoting farmers companies where dairy cooperative movement have been weak?

We are promoting farmers producers companies. Two of them are already in operations in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Three more companies in Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are at the various stages of formations. We are hoping to create such entities in other states as well. The focus would be create these farmers companies where cooperatives have not taken off or some stage of decay. These entities would covered under the companies law. These companies may not give brand like ‘Amul’ competition as they are not big enough. But in their own areas of operations, if they are efficient in terms of processing and transparent in their financial management they can deliver results to their own farmers.

Q: Cooperatives have to reorient itself to new modern day marketing of milk products. What would be your view on this?

Cooperative movements have to more accountable to its share holders. It has to bring back the values of democracy. Propriety and transparency, inefficient management lead to decay. The bottomline is timely payment to farmers. Milk marketing is not a challenge. Processing is a key challenge. My concern is that cooperatives or farmers producers companies to ensure that we enough liquid milk sold consumers in the country. Farmers centric organsations be given a primary space in the market.

Q: While we had operation flood which led to the country emerging at world’s biggest milk producer, similar success could not be replicated in fruits and vegetables. What are the reasons behind this.

We did not have milk movement like in fruits and vegetables. Besides, milk is more a homogeneous product to manage as one can mix buffalo or cow or various types of milk. Vegetables are multiple products and processing is complex. Its a little more complicated but we should do it. We need a different structure as unlike milk, a state can’t produce all types of fruits and vegetables thus also a challenge. We need to source correctly and distribute it correctly. Given the right structure we can do it.

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