As the Andhra Pradesh government has taken a decision to handover the properties of cooperatives of closed milk dairies in the state to the Gujarat based Amul on lease basis as part of its joint venture to develop the milk cooperatives, farmers’ unions and Left parties are opposing the move while demanding the government for their revival.
On April 17, while launching a milk collection unit in Guntur district as part of the Andhra Pradesh Amul Palavelluva project, Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy said that the joint project aims to bring 9,899 villages across the state under milk production where it is planning to set up Bulk Milk Cooling Units (BMCU) and Automatic Milk Collection Units (AMCU) with an expenditure of Rs 4,000 crore.
The government has now decided to hand over the properties of closed cooperative dairies under the AP Dairy Development Corporation to Amul on lease.
In July last year, the state government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Amul to develop the milk cooperatives in the state.
In a press statement on May 7, P Madhu, secretary of the state Communist Party of India (Marxist), demanded the government to reconsider its decision to hand over the properties of cooperative dairies to Amul company on lease basis.
“Over decades, cooperative dairies have accumulated hundreds of crores of properties in the state. In recent years, they had to shut down owing to certain government policies and management lapses. Several cooperatives have transformed into private companies,” he said and demanded that all such cooperative diaries must be revived by electing new committees in the cooperatives and in the district milk unions.
“In the districts where Amul started collecting milk, it started paying higher prices to the dairy farmers,” V Srinivasa Rao, leader of tenant farmers’ union, said but simultaneously, the government has increased the price of milk by Rs 2 per litre for consumers.
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“While the government is claiming to support over 9,000 women dairy cooperative societies through Amul, which is a good initiative, but the members of such societies must be chosen through elections,” said Rao. He added that the government is yet to implement its promise of giving bonus of Rs 4 per litre to dairy farmers supplying milk to cooperative dairies.
Reportedly, the current marketable milk surplus in the state is 288.5 lakh litre per day (LLPD) of which the unorganised sector contributes 219.3 LLPD, government cooperative dairies - 21.7 LLPD and private dairies - 47.5 LLPD.
According to a recent study by IMARC, a market research company, the Andhra Pradesh dairy market reached a value of Rs 506.7 billion in 2020.
Backing the joint venture with Amul in the state Assembly in December 2020, CM Jagan Mohan Reddy accused the former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu of deliberately weakening the cooperative dairies to promote private dairies such as Sangam, Visakha and Jersey and Heritage Dairy, owned by Naidu’s family.
In April, the state government issued an order taking over the control of Guntur-based Sangam dairy under the AP Dairy Development Corporation following allegations of irregularities in the dairy operations under the chairmanship of former Telugu Desam Party MLA Dhulipalla Narendra.
However, as the Sangam Dairy approached the Andhra Pradesh High Court against the move, the court stayed the government order giving back the control of the dairy to its former management.