Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Thursday sought Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s intervention in directing Gujarat-based dairy giant Amul to desist from milk procurement with immediate effect citing unhealthy competition with the state’s co-operative milk producer Aavin.
In a letter to Shah, Stalin urged the Centre to address the issues arising out of milk procurement by the Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union (Amul) in the Tamil Nadu milk shed area.
“Recently, it has come to the state government’s notice that Amul has utilised its multi-state cooperative license to install chilling centres and a processing plant in Krishnagiri district," Stalin said.
In addition, Amul plans to procure milk from Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) and Self Help Groups (SHGs) in and around Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Vellore, Ranipet, Tirupathur, Kancheepuram, and Tiruvallur districts in Tamil Nadu.
“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 (TN Co-operative Milk Producers Federation) milk shed area which has been nurtured in true cooperative spirit over decades."
Amul’s move will lead to unhealthy competition among cooperatives engaged in procuring and marketing milk and milk products, he said.
“Regional cooperatives have been the bedrock of dairy development in the states and they are better placed to engage and nurture producers and to cushion consumers from arbitrary price hikes. Therefore, I request your urgent intervention to direct Amul to desist from milk procurement from the milk shed area of Aavin in Tamil Nadu with immediate effect," the Chief Minister said.
Until now, Amul has only sold its products in Tamil Nadu through its own outlets, Stalin said. However, the state has a three-tier dairy cooperative system that has been in place since 1981 and benefits both rural milk producers and consumers, he added.
“Aavin is our apex cooperative marketing federation. Under the ambit of Aavin co-operative, 9,673 Milk Producers Co-operative Societies are functioning in rural areas. They procure 35 LLPD of milk from about 4.5 lakh pouring members. Under this current arrangement, milk producers are assured of remunerative and uniform prices throughout the year by the cooperative societies."
In addition to procuring and marketing milk and milk products, Aavin also provides various inputs to milk producers, such as cattle feed, fodder, mineral mixture, animal health care, and breeding services to increase and sustain milk production in Tamil Nadu. Aavin also ensures the supply of quality milk and milk products to consumers at one of the lowest prices in the country.
“Thus, Aavin plays a vital role in improving the livelihood of rural milk producers and the meeting the nutritional requirement of consumers," he said.
DMK Spokeswoman TKS Elangovan said there were issues with Aavin, but the state government is working to fix them.
Elangovan said the problems started during the AIADMK rule, and now they were trying to resolve them. He accused the BJP and AIADMK of “talking nonsense" and said that this was not a political move.
Speaking to reporters, he defended the government’s move stating they want to promote its state product, and asked why Amul could not procure milk in UP or Maharashtra instead of coming to Tamil Nadu.
The row comes after the Congress accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of trying to “strangulate" Nandini, Karnataka’s milk cooperative, in the run-up to the state assembly elections. This was after BJP leader Amit Shah, who is also the cooperation minister and hails from Gujarat, spoke about a collaboration between the two milk cooperatives. The Congress won the Karnataka elections this month.
(With inputs from PTI)