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Published by saumya.nanda5567

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Published by: saumya.nanda5567 on Jun 22, 2009
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It is indeed great news when an Indian corporation achieves a billion dollarturnover, but the same news gets bigger and in itself becomes a reason forcelebration if it is Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF: anapex body of 13 milk co-operatives), more popularly known as Amul – The Tasteof India. Yes! The federation has crossed the coveted billion dollar mark in thecurrent financial year, 2006-07. What makes this achievement special is thatunlike any other corporation where the benefits of this kind of achievementaccrue to its promoters and shareholders, in the case of GCMMF, it accrues to themost neglected and the majority stakeholder of our economy, i.e., the Indianfarmer!Of course, there is more than one reason why the success of GCMMF is bothunique and critical, particularly in the Indian environment. In a country wherefarmers have been the most neglected stakeholders, GCMMF has shown how,with the right intent and vision, a farmer cooperative can function like any otherprofessionally run corporation, compete in this fiercely competitive FMCGmarket, keep operational costs low, and yet succeed and set up an example,which is completely unheard of. The federation’s success also goes on to showhow – in a country where ageless apathy of the Indian farmer is a reality andnone, including the government, has bothered to make them partners of growthand success – an organization solely run by farmers can not only sustain but alsosucceed and plan to achieve more, making life more meaningful for thestaggering 26 lakh farmers associated with it. At a point in time where farmersuicides across the nation is a regular feature, and adding to their apathy is thecurrent spree of land grabbing, GCMMF’s achievement indicates that in thismarket economy too, it is possible to build a humane organisation and takedevelopment to the last level of the social hierarchy.Truly, GCMMF – a co-operative revolution that was envisaged by Sardar VallabhBhai Patel in 1946 – has come a long way. With humble beginnings with twocooperatives and 250 litres of milk procurement per day, it has grown to 13cooperatives and an average of an incredible 6.75 million kilograms of milkprocurement per day.In fact, the entire credit of making India the largest producer of milk (from amilk deficit nation, if one remembers) goes to this organisation and itsiconoclastic leader, Varghese Kurien (also known as the father of this whiterevolution), who gave birth to the brand Amul. India, as such, has one of the
largest livestock in the world with 16% of the world’s cattle, 57% of buffaloes,17% of goats and 5% of sheep. But what is close to miraculous is thefederation’s brilliant success in converting this livestock advantage andtranslating the same to thousands of farming households in Gujarat. And bydoing so, they have been able to productively engage the rural poor and thuscreate an impact in their overall socio-economic condition. The impact of thefederation has been such that studies have proved that the general standard of living and quality of life of associated farmers are remarkably better whencompared to other regions in the country.Among other things, another notable aspect of GCMMF is their success in one of the most ‘relinquished’ sectors of our economy, namely agriculture. At a periodwhere the capital formation in agriculture has been constantly shrinking, whatwith investments from both government and corporations not forthcoming, andeven global markets, particularly the developed ones, leaving no stone unturnedto protect their farmers, the federation has successfully shown that it (aka,agriculture) is not only prudent business, but a hugely profitable one for thatmatter. Almost a decade back in one of my books, ‘Planning India’, I had provedwhy it makes economic sense to invest in agriculture and allied industriesparticularly in the Indian environment. The argument went – and holds morestrongly now – that not only do we have a rural advantage (as a majority of ourpopulation is based in rural hinterlands, ergo, providing productive engagementbecomes easier), but also that agriculture and allied industries have a relativelymuch lower incremental-capital-output ratio as compared to other industries,whereby returns could be generated even with relatively smaller dosage of investments, provided products are of quality and marketed well. But thanks toour government, we have completely failed in nurturing this advantage. Forgetnurturing the agri-advantage, what has been most unfortunate is the kind of pathetic market environment that has been created, whereby half a litre of sweetened water in a pet bottle sells for Rs.20, but for a litre of milk, consumersnonchalantly bargain even to pay even Rs. 18. All that apart, what Amul hasdone is something that is completely irreplaceable and irrevocable, and that isthat it has won the trust of consumers. In a country where this factor is grosslydeficient, Amul has given us the same in abundance. And that is why when Amulachieves, it is not just an organisation’s achievement, or even the achievementof those 26 lac associated farmers, but truly, a national achievement! The tasteof India? Oh yes...

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