The story of Indian Dairy Industry: From scratch to success


Neha Thakur *1 and Vandana Chaudhary2

The livestock sector of India is one of the largest in the world. It has emerged as one of the major engines of agricultural growth in our country. As a matter of fact, livestock sector contributes more than 25% of total agricultural GVA and 4.5% of total GVA. Among the various livestock products, milk has always held a higher rank than the other products viz. meat, eggs, wool, hide etc. Since times immemorial milk is considered as an essential component of the human diet providing various nutrients owing to its high nutritive value and also offers a wide range of health benefits. Milk is defined as the whole, fresh, clean, lacteal secretion obtained by complete milking of udder of one or more healthy milch animals, excluding that obtained within 15 days before or 5 days after calving or such periods as may be necessary to render the milk practically colostrum free and containing the minimum prescribed percentages of milk fat and milk solids not fat (SNF). The dairy industry of India today stands tall with the global milk production of 176.3 MT (19% of world milk production), which has reached a mark of 187.7 MT for 2019 as per provisional report of DAHD, 2019. We have come a long way from being milk-deficit to surplous producers. The given article is an attempt to help the readers to develop an understanding of the growth of Indian dairy industry from scratch to success.

In the beginning
The dairy industry was almost completely unorganized in the initial stages. Although a beginning to organized milk handling was made in India with the establishment of Military Dairy Farms (oldest; Allahabad, 1889), a number of other steps in the post-independence era were undertaken to establish an organized system of milk collection, processing, distribution and storage. They included handling of milk in co-operative Milk Unions established all over the country on a small scale in the early stages, long distance refrigerated rail-transport of milk from Anand to Bombay since 1945, pasteurization and bottling of milk on a large scale for organized distribution at Aarey (1950), Worli (1961), Calcutta Haringhata, 1959), Delhi (1959), Madras (1963), etc.

In addition, the establishment of milk plants under the five year plans for dairy development all over India served the objective of increasing the national level of milk consumption and ensuring better returns to the primary milk producer. The main aim was to produce more, better and cheaper milk. Indian Dairy sector has gained a vital position in Indian economy by providing secondary source of income for millions of rural families and has assumed a most important role in providing employment and income generating opportunity. Per capita availability of milk was 375 grams per day in 2018 which increased from 241grams per day in 2005-06, up from 112 grams per day in 1968-69.  India's 6.6 percent annual growth of milk production surpasses the 1.1 per cent growth in population. Establishment of National Dairy Development Board (NDDB, Anand, 1965) and execution of Operation flood (1970-1996) helped to bring the white revolution in India under the able guidance of Dr Verghese Kurien. 

Present status of Indian Dairying
Milk production in India has come a long way over the years from a low volume of 17 Million MT in 1951 to 187.7 million MT in 2019. Currently India is the world's largest producer and consumer of milk accounting for 19% of the world milk production. The Indian dairy sector is characterized more by 'production by masses' than 'mass production'. Unlike leading milk producing countries in the world, large proportion (95%) of milk producers in the country hold 1 to 5 animals per household. Thus, the only option to meet the growing demand for milk will be to increase the productivity of cattle and buffaloes and increase the ratio of productive animals in the overall bovine population. Currently, 48% of total milk produced is either consumed at the producer level or sold to non-producers in the rural area. The balance 52% of the milk (marketable surplus) is available for sale to consumers in urban centres. Currently, about 40% of the milk sold is handled by the organised sector (Dairy Cooperatives-20%, Producer companies-1% & Private Dairies- 19%) and the remaining 60% by the unorganised sector. In India, Dairy Cooperatives including other Producer Owned Organisation (i.e. Producer Companies) play a major role of integration of producers in the modern dairy value chain. Producer Owned Organisations have enabled member control throughout the dairy value chain- i.e. milk procurement, processing &marketing and are seen to address issues such as inclusion, income and livelihood.

The lacunae in Indian dairy sector
Though India has become the largest milk producing country in the world, still this sector faces numerous challenges, which hinder the optimum growth in milk production, access of milk producers to organized market, processing of milk & value added products and availability of quality milk & milk products to consumers.

Some of the major challenges being faced by Indian Dairy sector are as low Productivity of Indian bovine, imbalanced feeding to animals, limited access of milk producers to organized sector, age old infrastructure operating on obsolete technology, lack of organised credit system, lack of manufacturing facilities for value added products, lack of efficient chilling infrastructure at village level, lack of penetration in smaller cities/ towns in terms of milk marketing and lack of efficient cold chain distribution network.

Although India ranks number one in terms of milk production but the productivity per animal is only 1,806 kg/year in comparison to the world average of 2,310 kg/year. The government aims to improve the existing production potential by adopting the technologies like embryo transfer technology, creation of facility for sex sorted semen production and genomics selection under the Rashtriya Gokul Mission. The mission aims to target about 80 million rural Indian households that are engaged in milk production with very high proportion being landless, small and marginal farmers.

Important Milk Statistics:
•ICMR recommendation of milk- 300 ml/day or 289g/day
•Per capita availability of milk- 394 g/day (2019, BAHS, DAHD)
•Total Milk Production of India- 187.75 MT (2019, BAHS, DAHD)
•State with highest milk production in India- Uttar Pradesh (16.3% of the total milk produced)
•Total milk production of Rajasthan  (12.6% of the total milk production) followed by  Madhya Pradesh (8.5%), Andhra Pradesh (8.0%), Gujarat (7.7%)
• These five states together contribute 53.1% of total milk production in the country. 
•The growth rate of Indian Dairy Industry is @ 6.5% annually
•Global contribution of India to world milk production is 19%

It is possible to ensure sustainable growth of dairy sector by doubling of farmers' income engaged in dairying, thereby paving way for nutritional security, economic prosperity and livelihood support. Overall, the Indian dairy sector is experiencing an upheaval with new product launches, repositioning of brands and entry of newer players. This will also prompt several global players to enter the Indian market. The growth of disposable incomes, change in family structures, more women joining the work force and focus on healthy-nutritious and quality products are likely to result in demand for a shift towards dairy products that are not just functional and convenient but also meet the needs of the consumer.

Authors are from
1 Assistant Professor, Department of Livestock Products Technology, LUVAS, Hisar-125004
2 Assistant Professor, College of Dairy Science and Technology, LUVAS, Hisar-125004

1.Basic Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Statistics. 2019. DAHD Annual Report
2.De. S. 1980. Outlines of dairy technology. Outlines of dairy technology    
3.Sharma. Y.K. Mangla. S.K. and Patil. P.P. 2019. Analyzing Challenges to Transportation for Successful Sustainable Food Supply Chain Management Implementation in Indian Dairy Industry. In Information and Communication Technology for Competitive Strategies (pp. 409-418). Springer, Singapore.