Ahead of the 2024 parliamentary elections, the battle between cooperative dairies seems to be hotting up. The latest to join the issue is Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, who has sought Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s intervention to ask Amul, owned by Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), not to procure from the milkshed area of Aavin, the State cooperative dairy firm.

Amul arm active

“Recently, it has come to our notice that Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union (a unit of Amul), has utilised its multi-state cooperative licence, to install chilling centres and a processing plant in Krishnagiri district and plans to procure milk through FPOs and SHGs in and around Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Vellore, Ranipet, Tirupathur, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts in our State,” Stalin said in a letter to Shah.

A GCMMF source, who did not wish to be identified, said the issue has been raised probably with 2024 elections in mind, probably after the Congress tasted success by raising a similar issue against Amul in favour of Karnataka’s Nandini.

“Amul has been procuring and processing milk in 15 States. Nothing can stop it,” said a source.

Within Tamil Nadu, the Bharatiya Janata Party wondered if the Chief Minister is being misled. “Why can’t Amul procure when private companies are buying milk from farmers? Amul is paying ₹2 more per litre,” wondered a BJP leader.

No infringe deal

But Stalin argued that 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 consumer problems given the prevailing milk shortage scenario in the country.

“This act of Amul infringes on Aavin’s milkshed area, which has been nurtured in true cooperative spirit over decades,” Stalin said.

Also read: Amul Vs Nandini Vs dairy co-ops: NDDB calls heads of various milk federations to sort out row

“Regional cooperatives have been the bedrock of dairy development in the States. T and they are better placed to engage and nurture producers and to cushion consumers from arbitrary price hikes,” he said.

Till now, Amul was just selling its products through its outlets in the State, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister argued.

Aavin contribution

In Tamil Nadu, as in other States, a three-tier dairy cooperative system has been functioning since 1981, benefiting rural milk producers and consumers. “Aavin is our apex cooperative milk marketing federation,” he said.

Under the ambit of the Aavin co-operative, 9,673 Milk Producers Co-operative Societies are procuring 35 lakh litres of milk daily from about 4.5 lakh members. Under this arrangement, the milk producers are assured of remunerative and uniform prices throughout the year by the cooperative societies. It also ensures the supply of quality milk and milk products to consumers at the lowest price.