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When cooperatives pushed out private dairies...

The first batch of Anand Pattern Cooperatives organised by the Spearhead Team attracted attention and publicity. The First day milk collection was 249 litres! What attracted the farmers most was the total transparency in the operations.

The milk price chart was prominently displayed at the cooperative for public view. Since the payment was based on fat content, farmers realised that the purer the milk, the higher the amount it fetched. Milk collection started going up in the Anand Pattern cooperatives. The quality of milk improved dramatically: 8-9 per cent fat and 9-10 per cent saturated non-fat (SNF). TNDDC staff at the Erode Dairy were astonished that Tamil Nadu buffalo milk also had high fat and SNF, like the Gujarati buffaloes!

Soon the news spread to neighbouring villages. We started getting requests for setting up of cooperatives in more villages. But we decided to go slow on the formation of new cooperatives as we wanted to stabilise the ones already formed.

TN Milk Commissioner Menezes visited the cooperatives and was happy with the changes taking place. He wanted the kg-fat milk pricing system to be followed in other districts in quick time.

 

When true education happens, superstition dies...

Private creamery operators allowed only one person to deliver milk at a time at their milk collection centre. A curtain (made of gunny bags) was hung for this purpose. The reason given was that this was to ward off the ‘evil eye.’ I noticed this practice at all creameries. When I probed the matter, I discovered the creamery operator cheating the milk supplier (mostly ladies) by manipulating the cream separator which resulted in cream escaping into the separate milk container and also through defective weighments. Understandably, he didn’t want his malpractices to be noticed by other suppliers.

When we started the Anand Pattern cooperatives, the farmers insisted on putting such curtains. We didn’t object to it and put the curtain. Gradually, we explained to the farmers why the curtain was hung at the creameries. The farmers realised the foolery behind the curtain and after some time gave it up in the cooperatives!

 

CS took keen interest

Dr L K Muthuswamy, a leading medical practitioner, was the President of Erode Cooperative Milk Supply Union. His two sons had married C Subramaniam’s (CS) two daughters. CS was the then Union Finance Minister. I got introduced to CS who evinced great interest in the implementation of Operation Flood(OF) programme in Erode. This enabled me to interact with him often. In the initial stages, when he was the Union Agriculture Minister, CS had fully supported National Dairy Development Board(NDDB) and the Operation Flood(OF) programme.

After the formation of several cooperatives around Erode, milk collection increased substantially. Milk vendors, including those of the Erode Milk Supply Union, found it difficult to face competition from the newly formed cooperatives. Consequently, milk collection by the vendors came down drastically. The Erode Milk Supply Union’s milk collection was adversely affected: they didn’t have enough milk to stay in the market. My differences with Dr Muthuswamy had reached Dr Kurien’s ears and I was asked to mellow down my approach.

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