Kerala has attained self-sufficiency in milk production and is poised to set up a milk powder plant in Malabar to process the surplus, Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development Minister K Raju said on Thursday. The work on the plant, to be located in Malappuram, will start this financial year and it would be run by the Malabar Regional Co-operative Milk Producers' Union (MRCMPU) with technical assistance from the National Dairy Development Board, he said. The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) will extend financial support to the plant.
The Minister made the announcement after inaugurating the state-level centenary celebrations of Milkman Dr Verghese Kurien, whose White Revolution in the 1970s went on to make the country the worlds largest milk producer.
The year-long programmes are being led by the Kerala Co- operative Milk Marketing Federation (KCMMF) or Milma. Milma Chairman PA Balan presided over the event at the headquarters of MRCMPU here, the birthplace of Kurien.
Marking the occasion, Milma brought out a special milk cover that carries the centenary logo of Kurien, while a special postal cover was also released in his honour. Two new products were also launched at the function. Nirmala Kurien, daughter of Indias Milkman, unveiled a statue of Kurien and delivered the commemorative lecture.
Raju said Keralas 3500-odd cooperative societies have enabled Milma to achieve a 12.46 per cent growth in milk production during the last fiscal. This was double the national average of 6.40 per cent during 2019-20.
Despite facing floods during the 2018 and 2019 monsoons, followed by a crisis owing to COVID-19 this year, Kerala's milk cooperatives have clocked an impressive turnover.
The high quality of Milmas products would soon help the establishment earn bigger markets outside Kerala and abroad, he said, noting that the cooperative has 10 lakh dairy farmers, one-fourth of whom are women. The Minister hailed Indias refusal to sign the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), saying the international free trade agreement will work against t6he country's dairy farmers.We need to continue our fight against RCEP, he said. Balan said Milma currently procured 15 lakh litres of milk daily while the pandemic led to a slump in the establishments value-added products such as butter and ghee. Milmas annual turnover stood at Rs 3,300 crore in 2019- 20, thanks to its cooperative societies, he said.
It was launching a nation-wide campaign for Dr Kurien to be bestowed with the Bharat Ratna, the countrys highest civilian honour. One lakh dairy farmers will send signed postcards with a request to the Prime Minister. Also, a top Milma delegation will meet members of both houses of Parliament as part of the campaign, he added. Milma cooperatives lit lamps in front of Dr Kuriens portraits.
Nirmala Kurien, recalling the contributions of her father to Indias dairy sector, said he envisioned an inclusive economy when he launched the milk movement in 1970s at Anand in Gujarat.
He weeded out middlemen from the system and ensured that the dairy farmer got the income directly from the sale of milk through the cooperatives.