Cooperative Dairying Movement

In the early forties, the British Government in India decided to improve the quality of milk in Bombay city. The municipal corporation of Bombay city organized a scheme in November, 1945 (known as the Bombay Municipal Corporation Milk supply scheme) for bringing milk from Kaira District at a distance of about 400 Km from Bombay city and selling at subsidized rate to expectant mothers and children. The Bombay Municipal Corporation Milk supply scheme purchased a fixed quantum of milk from Polson Limited, a private enterprise at Anand. There was huge difference in the price paid under the scheme and that of final price paid by Polson to the farmers. Polson maximised its profit by minimising the price paid to the milk producers. He created a strong network of contractors in the district.

The Bombay Municipal Corporation Milk supply scheme faced severe financial problems during the early days of its operation. In 1946, the government of Bombay State took over the administration of the scheme and established a statutory body known as the Bombay Milk Scheme. The Bombay Milk Scheme awarded a monopoly right for procuring milk in Kaira District to Polson, a decision that aroused strong political opposition in the district as the benefits of a relatively high purchase price paid by the Bombay Milk Scheme were not likely to be passed on to the producers. The arrangement was satisfactory to all concerned except the farmers. The government found it profitable and Polson kept a good margin. Milk contractors took the biggest cut. No one had taken the trouble to fix the price of milk to be paid to the producers. Thus, under the Bombay Milk Scheme the farmers of Kaira district were no better off than before.  They were still under mercy of milk contractors. They had to sell their milk at a price the contractors fixed. The discontent of the farmers grew. They met Sardar Vallabhai Patel, who had advocated farmers’ cooperatives as early in 1942. On his advice farmers of Kaira District launched a campaign to organize dairy cooperative, which paved way for the AMUL model of dairy development in India. 

The Anand Pattern

The cooperative dairying in India really came into reckoning from 1946 onwards. The first farmers’ integrated dairy cooperative was established in Anand town of Kaira District of Gujarat in 1946, to fight against the exploitation of farmers by the private traders.  This cooperative is popularly known as AMUL (Anand Milk Union Limited). AMUL emerged as a result of a powerful socio-economic movement, which shook British bureaucracy in this part of the country.

The AMUL cooperative movement began with organisation of two village level dairy cooperatives in June 1946. With five dairy cooperatives as its members, AMUL got registered in December 1946.  The basic unit in Anand pattern cooperatives is the village level milk producers’ cooperative society - a voluntary association of milk producers who wish to market their milk collectively. All the dairy cooperative societies in a milk-shed are affiliated to an apex organisation -The District Cooperative Milk Producers Union. The milk union procures milk collected by the member dairy cooperative societies, processes the same and arranges marketing of liquid milk and milk products. Besides paying to the member dairy cooperative societies for the milk supply, the milk union provides inputs for productivity enhancement of the animals.

The salient features of Anand pattern dairy cooperatives are: 

  • Availability of round the year market to the milk producers.
  • Effective governance by elected representative of farmers.
  • Effective professional management.
  • Sharing of profits by members of the dairy cooperatives on equitable basis.
  • Availability of inputs for enhancing milk production of milch animals of the members of dairy cooperatives.

The journey of dairy cooperatives beginning from organisation of Katra dairy cooperative society during 1907 in Allahabad District to the emergence of AMUL as a strong and vibrant dairy cooperative is a journey of untiring efforts of self-less leaders, committed milk producers supported by professionals, AMUL has proved to be an effective organisation which has been sensitive to the needs and aspiration of its members.