Amul – The success of a dairy cooperative in India | News
Anand Milk Union Limited (Amul), a dairy cooperative dairy company based in the state of Gujarat in western India, is one of India’s biggest success stories.
For years, many poor farmers struggled during the off-seasons as their income from milk-producing buffaloes was unreliable. Amul director Deepak Sharma explained that decades ago the milk marketing system was controlled by entrepreneurs and middlemen.
As milk is perishable, farmers were forced to sell their milk for whatever it was offered to them, although middlemen sold it for huge profits. Farmers knew this was unfair, and it became more visible when the Bombay government launched the Bombay Milk Scheme in 1945.
Sharma explained that the arrangement was satisfactory for everyone involved except the farmers. Farmers contacted Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first deputy prime minister of independent India, who had advocated for a farmers’ cooperative as early as 1942.
They applied again, but their request to create their own cooperative was rejected by the government. The farmers called a milk strike, which lasted for 15 days, without a drop of milk being sold to the milk merchants.
It was only then that the Bombay milk commissioner accepted the farmers’ request. Founded in 1946, the Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers Union Limited started out with just two village dairy companies and 247 liters of milk. Today it is better known as Amul Dairy.
The name ‘Amul’ is derived from the ancient Sanskrit word of the Indian language Amulya, which means “priceless”. The 75-year-old cooperative is owned by 3.6 million milk producers and in each village there are around 200 milk producers, who are mostly women.
Much praise goes to the ‘Milk Man of India’, Dr Verghese Kurien, who was given the task of running the dairy from 1950 and dedicated his life to the Indian dairy sector.
Today India is the world’s largest producer of milk, accounting for 22 percent of global production, followed by the United States of America, China, Pakistan and Brazil.
Kurien also chaired the National Dairy Development Board, which was set up with the fundamental objective of replicating the Amul model across India, and has been successfully replicated in 28 states.
“To become a member of Amul, you must own at least one animal – a cow or a buffalo – and you must provide at least 700 liters of milk per year,” Sharma said.
At headquarters, Amul sends 200 tankers a day to collect an average of 3.2 million liters of milk, the quality of which is tested before it is unloaded at the factory.
“Artificial insemination helps us produce high productivity bulls, which in turn improves animal performance. We also use embryo transfer technology and started producing animal feed in 1964, as an animal’s performance can be affected by nutrition, ”the official explained.
The cooperative has continued to grow. Amul’s product line includes milk, powdered milk, diet drinks, butter, cheese, ice cream, chocolates and Indian sweets, among others.
Many of its 700 products are available in more than 50 countries, including the United States, Singapore, Japan, China and Australia.
“We have around 3.6 million farmers and we are growing at a rate of almost 10%, while the world is growing 3-4% in terms of milk production. The future of Amul is very bright and we are now looking to branch out into other cooperative sectors, such as fruits and vegetables, ”said Sharma.
Amul is a story of hope, empowerment, and how cooperation can transform the lives of thousands of people and create a whole movement.