The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) has drawn up a blueprint for strengthening the cooperative dairy sector. Perspective 2010, as the plan is called, envisaged that milk procurement by cooperatives will increase from the current level of 5.75 million tonnes to 17.8 million tonnes by 2010. The number of dairy cooperative societies will increase from 84,289 to 1,29,480 while membership will increase from 10.62 million to 15.62 million. Milk marketing is expected to rise from the current 4.7 million tonnes to 14 million tonnes.
According to the NDDB Annual Report for 1999-2000 released recently, Perspective 2010 was prepared after NDDB carried out extensive planning exercises with milk cooperative unions and federations across the country. It emphasizes four thrust areas: Strengthening the Cooperative Framework, Productivity Enhancement, Quality and Plant Management and National Information Network.
Thirty-four projects valued at around Rs 2,900 million are currently under execution. In the pipeline are a further 150 projects ranging from expansion of existing processing facilities to setting up of major new dairy plants.
The NDDB Board has already approved the revised lending terms of Perspective 2010. While loans at a very reasonable interest rate are available for building processing capacities, activities related to human resource development, productivity enhancement, quality control and building a national information network will be funded as interest free loans and/or with matching grants.
Currently, research in animal breeding, genetics, nutrition and health are being carried out by the Productivity Enhancement Group. It continued to support the efforts of the cooperatives in enhancing milk production. The Quality Assurance Group worked with cooperatives and unions to identify and address key stages in the quality process, confirming that significant gains can be achieved. Accordingly, 90 per cent of the milk reaching consumers from the cooperatives will be from ISO Certified dairy plants by the year 2010.
The National Information Network Group has initiated development of software and hardware that will link village cooperatives, unions and federations with the NDDB. It has also conducted a number of baseline studies in key milksheds. All cooperative unions will be linked to and through an internet Dairy Information System. About 75 per cent of the unions will use computerised data processing in all major functional areas.
The Perspective 2010 targets call for increased geographical spread, organization of new cooperatives and strengthening of old ones, expanded services and enhanced market.
The 45 cooperative feed plants affiliated to various unions also produced 1.4 million tonnes of cattle feed in 1999-2000, thereby meeting about 50 per cent of the country's supply. It is targetted to increase the daily cattle feed production from 4,066 tonnes to 8,628 tonnes by 2010.
Even though the goals are challenging, NDDB's partnership with federations and unions is well placed to spearhead, a thrust of this magnitude. However, achievement of these objectives will depend in part on an environment where cooperatives can function in a competitive, liberalized economy with the same autonomy and accountability as other forms of enterprise. Also important to success will be favourable trade policies, climatic conditions and the availability of human and material resources.
Thirty six years after NDDB's founding, a nationwide network of dairy cooperatives serves more than 10 million farmers in over 80,000 villages. More than Rs 50,000 million flows back to the milk producers through their cooperatives each year.