February 26 to 28 a delegation of seven Gungho executive visited Anand, Gujarat Province in SW India. This was the fourth international visit implemented by Gung Ho.
Anand was recommended by the International Cooporative Association (ICA) for its position in Indian Cooperative development, namely the AMUL dairy cooperative, and The Institute of Rural Management of Anand (IRMA), set up some 40 years ago to serve the development of the dairy cooperative.
Starting small in 1949 in two villages, followed by the ‘white flood’ initiative in the early 1990s to extend the model, subsidiaries of AMUL are now present throughout India.
The cooperative has three levels. 1. Production, with farmer members contributing their milk twice daily at village acquisition centres, where it is tested and placed in Bulk Cool Storage. Farmers are paid on the spot for their milk, which may range each collection for 2-3 litres up to 40-50 with some larger scale.
- Processing, where the milk is collected from the village collection points in Refrigerated tankers and brought to the factories, where it is processed into a vast range of products from fresh supply, through milk powder, cheese, butter, ghee, ice-cream, chocolate….
While visiting the factory a group of around 30 women,dressed in their very colourful Gujarat saris, with some children in tow, were also visiting. We were informed that they were shareholders, owners of the factory. Smallholder members increased pride in their cooperative through such visits, respected as owners.
- Marketing is done through a professional management team. The Brand name AMUL is widely recognized throughout India. The marketing is also a part of the cooperative and owned by the members.
At the end of the chain, the farmer members get a return of 80% of the retail price of the milk.
One of the keys to success of the cooperative was given as the democratic principle of one member one vote, the use of professionals at each level, and the strict adherence to the ownership at all levels being retained by the farmer members.
Our hosts at IRMA gave us an in depth insight into their successful training operation. The founding figurehead was a very spirited man named Vergese Kurien, who dedicated his life to farmer development through the cooperative and training. He may be compared to an Indian peer of Rewi Alley. The college provides a range of courses from short term to postgraduate, and were very student focused and sought after for placement in the dairy industry. Applicants far exceed the annual intake of 240.
From this visit, Gung Ho is establishing an agreement with ICA and IRMA to continue to share experiences and resources.