India: From a milk deficit country to world’s largest producer
India was once a milk-deficit country. But at present, it is the largest producer of milk in the world, contributing 21 per cent of global milk production
Over the past two decades, India’s milk production has doubled. The credit also goes to a well-known federation called ‘Amul’, which was created by 3.6 million milk producers in Gujarat. In order to improve the livelihood of the farmers, Amul also charted its journey on a similar path as ‘Operation Flood’. By helping small dairy farmers earn their livelihoods, the production of milk per house was doubled.
The dairy sector assumes a great deal of significance for India on various accounts. As an industry, it employs more than 80 million rural households with the majority being small and marginal farmers as well as the landless. The cooperative societies have not only made the farmers self-sufficient but have also broken the shackles of gender, caste, religion and community.
Women producers form the major workforce of the dairy sector in the country. The sector is an important job provider, especially for women, and plays a leading role in women’s empowerment. With a series of measures being taken by the government as well as the growing role of the private sector in dairy development, India is expected to sustain its growth in milk production and milk processing in the coming decades.
Every year, since 2001, June 1 is observed as World Milk Day by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations to acknowledge the importance of milk as a global food and to celebrate the dairy sector. In India, the birthday of Verghese Kurien, on November 26, is observed as National Milk Day.