A section of dairy farmers is opposed to the Centre’s proposal to appoint a private dairy company representative as one of the directors of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB).
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Representational Image (Photo | PTI)

CHENNAI: A section of dairy farmers is opposed to the Centre’s proposal to appoint a private dairy company representative as one of the directors of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB). They said the move would lead to NDDB losing its autonomy and getting controlled by market forces.

It was on January 18 that the Union government issued a draft notification to amend the NDDB Act, 1987. According to the proposal, the NDDB can have two directors, one of which shall be a person qualified in specialties like animal husbandry, dairying, and rural economics, while the other shall be from private dairy industries. Presently, NDDB acts as a nodal agency for funding, implementing, and monitoring dairy development activities.

MG Rajendran, general secretary of TN Milk Producers Welfare Association, said that if NDDB comes under the control of market forces, state-owned dairy federations like Aavin would be pushed to go against farmers.

“Aavin has not reduced milk procurement price, but private companies have cut the price by `15-20 a litre. Given that Aavin is relying on NDDB for infrastructure improvements, the nodal agency should not be allowed to be headed by private players,” added Rajendran.

He also questioned the need for an additional director as the dairy sector has witnessed significant growth over the past several decades and milk production increased in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and several other states.

According to official data, Aavin procures about 41 lakh litres per day (LLPD) of milk, of which 26 lakh litres are distributed in sachets and 10.75 lakh litres converted into milk products such as ghee, curd, and milk powder. About four lakh litres of milk are sold as loose milk among farmers.

For the year 2021-22, Aavin has proposed to take up capacity building works at dairy plants at Madhavaram, Salam, Thanjavur, and Tiruchy to handle 50 LLPD of milk from the current 41. The works are to be taken up at `348 crore funded by NDDB.

S Chandra Kumar, a dairy farmer in Thandrampattu, said, “Without enhancing the capacity of dairy plants, Aavin won’t be in a position to increase procurement. If a funding agency like NDDB is headed by a private player, won’t it act against the growth of Aavin and dairy farmers?”

When contacted, officials from the Aavin and dairy development department said the matter is a policy decision of the State government and refused to comment further.

As one generation of dairy farmers see retirement on the horizon, who are the next generation farmers taking over the responsibility of feeding the world?

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