It was in 1904 when the seed of cooperation was sown in India with the passage of first Cooperative Act. Since then, the cooperative movement has made rapid strides in all fields of socio-economic activities. In the fields of agriculture credit, fertilizer disbursement, sugar production, handloom, etc, the cooperatives have created a strong niche. However, the contribution of cooperatives to Indias dairy industry is enormous. The cooperatives have ushered in milk revolution in the country.

The dairy industry has made India proud in recent times. India is the leading producer of milk in the world. Dairy cooperatives are the backbone of Indian dairy industry. Dairy cooperatives have

excelled in their areas of cooperatives. The figures justify this. When the cooperative dairy movement was started, the daily per capita milk consumption was 106ml. Today, it is 250ml or 90 kg per year. Milk is the country's number one agricultural commodity. The estimated value of milk to producers, most of them marginal, small, and landless is more than $20.

What is the reason for success of dairy cooperatives? The reason is simple. It is empowerment. These  cooperatives are not controlled by the government. The farmers own and manage them based upon the needs and demands of the community. The germs of milk revolution were laid down way back in 1946 in a small town called Anand in Western India.


Tired of exploitation by traders and local private dairy, the milk producers organized themselves into village dairy cooperatives. These cooperatives federated into the Kaira Milk Producers Union. Soon it had its first dairy plant. It started producing and marketing milk products under the brand name Amul. Under the charismatic leadership of V. Kurien, the father of milk revolution, the Amul model of cooperatives soon became an example for others to emulate. The government wanted the Amul model to be replicated in other parts of the country. Its own controlled dairy cooperatives had failed. Amul is today the most popular brand of milk.

Operation Flood the worlds dairy development program inspired by the Amul model and implemented by National Dairy Development Board- was implemented in three phases in the country between 1970 and 1996. Milk was collected daily by village dairy cooperatives and sent to milk producers' unions who sold it as liquid milk and processed products through their federal marketing

cooperatives. The Operation Flood Program has had a tremendous impact. There has been rapid growth in Indias milk production, around 4 to 5 percent annually.


The Operation Flood Program has also contributed to the socio-economic development of rural milk producers. It has made the poor less poor. It has also established an effective partnership between farmers and professionals in the dairy industry. The professionals use the latest technologies in the dairy industry, based upon clear-cut assessment of the situation. No doubt dairy cooperatives are the most professionally managed sector of the Indian cooperatives.

The de-licensing of the dairy industry has not threatened dairy cooperatives. They seem to march ahead despite the entry of the private sector and multinationals. Amul has overtaken others in the   ice-cream market. Britannia has been forced to withdraw from the liquid milk market in many parts of the country. The biggest strength of dairy cooperatives is their labour intensiveness. Cost effectiveness is another important factor. Dairy cooperatives have effectively used the toil of farmers to develop self-reliance. It is unique. The future is indeed bright for dairy cooperatives.