In a fresh flashpoint involving India’s dairy corporations, Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister MK Stalin on Thursday asked Union Home Minister Amit Shah to instruct the Gujarat-based dairy behemoth Amul to cease milk procurement activities in Tamil Nadu immediately.
In a letter to Mr Shah, Mr Stalin expressed concerns about the implications of milk collection by the Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union, commonly known as Amul, in Tamil Nadu’s dairy producing regions which could affect Aavin, the Tamil Nadu Co-operative Milk Producers Federation.
The Tamil Nadu government recently discovered that Amul has been using its multi-state cooperative license to establish chilling centres and a processing plant in Krishnagiri district, according to Mr Stalin.
He added that Amul intends to procure milk via Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) and Self Help Groups (SHGs) in Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Vellore, Ranipet, Tirupathur, Kancheepuram, and Tiruvallur districts in Tamil Nadu.
The Chief Minister stressed that it has been standard practise to allow cooperatives to prosper without encroaching on each other’s dairy producing areas.
Such cross-procurement contravenes the spirit of ‘Operation White Flood’ and could worsen the current milk shortage in the country, affecting consumers, he said, and pointed out that Amul’s actions infringe on the dairy producing area of Aavin.
“It has been a norm in India to let cooperatives thrive without infringing on each other’s milk-shed area. Such cross-procurement goes against the spirit of ‘Operation White Flood’ and will exacerbate problems for the consumers given the prevailing milk shortage scenario in the country. This act of Amul infringes on Aavin’s milk shed area which has been nurtured in true cooperative spirit over decades,” the Chief Minister wrote.
Mr Stalin voiced concerns that this move by Amul would foster unhealthy competition among cooperatives involved in procuring and marketing milk and dairy products.
“Regional cooperatives have been the cornerstone of dairy development in the states and they are better equipped to interact with and support producers, as well as to protect consumers from arbitrary price increases,” he wrote.
“Hence, I request your immediate intervention to direct Amul to cease milk procurement from the dairy producing area of Aavin in Tamil Nadu immediately,” Mr Stalin stated.
Mr Stalin clarified that until now, Amul only sold its products in Tamil Nadu through its outlets. He pointed out that Tamil Nadu, like other states with robust dairy cooperatives, has effectively maintained a three-tier dairy cooperative system since 1981 for the benefit of rural milk producers and consumers.
According to Mr Stalin, “Aavin, our apex cooperative marketing federation, oversees 9,673 Milk Producers Co-operative Societies in rural areas. They procure 35 LLPD of milk from about 450,000 members. This arrangement guarantees milk producers uniform and profitable prices throughout the year.”
Aavin also offers various resources such as cattle feed, fodder, mineral mixtures, and animal health care and breeding services to enhance and maintain milk production in Tamil Nadu. Moreover, it ensures the supply of high-quality milk and dairy products to consumers at some of the country’s lowest prices. Therefore, Aavin plays a crucial role in improving the livelihoods of rural milk producers and in meeting consumers’ nutritional needs, he wrote.
Last month, before the Karnataka elections, a political controversy had erupted when Amul announced its plans to enter the Bengaluru market with its milk and curd products.
The then opposition parties, Congress and JD-S, opposed the move, claiming that it would harm the interests of the local dairy farmers and the state-owned Nandini brand, which is run by the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF).