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In a Fix

M. J. Arul

India's largest dairy development programme, known as Operation Flood, was planned on the basis of the successful experiences of a dairy cooperative, which evolved in a place called Anand, Gujarat.

In 1946, the many small farmers around Anand woke up against the exploitative practices of middle men and refused to supply their milk to the milk-marketing scheme which was operative under the aegis of the then colonial government. At the advice of some leaders in the independence movement, these farmers got together and formed a milk cooperative so as to market their milk directly. From such a modest beginning, this cooperative gradually grew and, by the mid-1960s, became a full-fledged enterprise, covering the whole district of Kaira. Soon it evolved into a vertically integrated structure, which truly benefited all its member farmers. Impressed by the working of this set-up, the then Prime Minister proposed to spread it to other parts of the country and the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) was established to implement the proposal.

The NDDB formulated Operation Flood to replicate the milk cooperative set-up of Anand in other parts of the country. The characteristic structure of this pattern of cooperatives is as follows:

The basic unit is the Village Milk Producers' Cooperative (VMPC). All milk producers who wish to market their milk cooperatively are eligible to join the VMPC -- one member from each family. These members elect from amongst themselves a management committee of nine, who in turn choose one of them to be their chairman.

The chairmen of all the VMPCs of a district elect from amongst themselves a Board of Directors to form a District Union. The Board appoints a professional as Chief Executive to manage a processing plant (which is usually located near a district town or city) and allied activities. The Union not only processes and markets its members' milk, but it also organises mobile veterinary clinics (which visit every VMPC once a week, apart from attending to emergency calls), artificial insemination centres, supplies of balanced cattle feed, etc. All these door-step services are to enable the member farmers to enhance milk production.

A State-level Federation is formed by a board of governors elected from among the chairmen of District Unions. The Federation, with its professional managers and staff, enables its member unions to co-ordinate their production planning and conducts a joint marketing of their products. The profit realised by the Federation is shared by the member unions, who in turn share it with their member VMPCs, who distribute it to their member farmers.

In its attempt to replicate this producer-oriented cooperative in several States, the NDDB used to send a composite team of well-trained specialists, who would organise such cooperatives in viable areas of a chosen State. While building up an Anand-pattern organisation in a particular locality, the team would simultaneously develop local expertise to manage the affairs and would withdraw from the scene after the initial stage was through. Often, however, one or two representatives of the NDDB used to be deputed to such organisations to help them out for a longer period of time.

Madhoupur is a district town, in which an Anand-pattern Union Dairy has been functioning for a few years now. Half a kilometer from the dairy is K.K. Nagar Housing Colony, with two of the dairy's sale booths located there. The residents of the colony are of the middle income group. Some nouveaux riches also live there. Fresh milk is in good demand all over the town. People in this colony prefer it even at an appreciable premium.

At one end of the colony lives Rajaram with his large joint family and eight milch buffaloes. There are also half a dozen small families settled there, whose sole source of livelihood is from working as household servants in the colony. Rajaram is in his late forties, dresses well and is often seen in town. His political affiliation is with the ruling party and people have seen him taking lifts home in a "sarkari" jeep. Once he had a wedding to attend in the next village, just two kilometers away, and had himself dropped to and fro by the same jeep.

Rajaram is also very sociable. On his very first visit to the dairy, two years ago, he made friends with the Chairman, Mr. Alok Naik. Ever since, Mr. Naik has had many a dinner at the Rajarams. On one such occasion, Rajaram disclosed his intention of adding to his herd and asked Mr. Naik to register a society (VMPC) for K.K. Nagar Housing Colony, but Mr. Naik replied that it would not be possible.

One day, the manager in charge of milk production (Mr. Kevalan Kutty), under instruction from the Chairman, asks Mr. Emmanuel Ficks, Dy. Manager (P&I), to open a VMPC in the above-cited housing colony. Mr. Ficks is a young man of 24. He is on deputation from the NDDB and this is his first job. The NDDB, as we know, is the technical adviser for replication of the Anand-pattern cooperative under Operation Flood.

What could Mr. Ficks do? Examine the consequences of each alternative he could choose. (Please remember to consult the relevant byelaws.)

Other cases.