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The flawed Rs17,000 crore vision of NDDB and its chairman Amrita Patel

Monday, 10 February 2014 - 6:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
The flawed Rs.17,000 crore vision of NDDB and Amrita Patel

On 19 April 2012, Amrita Patel, current chairman of the NDDB flagged off the National Dairy Plan (NDP) from Anand, Gujarat. It is popularly known as the breeding and feeding programme, though there are less charitable versions doing the rounds as well. This could emerge as one of the most controversial projects that the NDDB has taken up.

NDDB was the architect of the plan in 2008 and it involved an outlay of Rs17,000 crore. To get this money, it persuaded the government of India, through Sharad Pawar, Union minister for agriculture, to take a loan of Rs17,500 crore from the World Bank. The idea was to accelerate milk production. This loan will cost us more for a project which could have been done at a cheaper cost as shown below.

The Plan has a 15-year horizon. It envisages a focused multi-state initiative to improve animal productivity, strengthen and expand infrastructure for milk procurement at village level, and enhance milk processing capacity and marketing, backed with appropriate policy and regulatory measures. Phase I has a duration of 6 years (2011-12 to 2016-17).

By July, 2011, Patel informed media persons that NDDB would soon begin developing a new breed of superbulls, custom-made in laboratories, so that their progeny become milch cows of the highest order. The project to genetically upgrade India’s breeding bulls was to begin in October 2011 with the aim of creating 900 of the finest bulls in about five years.

The first phase, according to NDDB’s own website, involves an outlay of Rs2,242 crore. A line of credit of $352 million has already been taken in March 2012 from the IDA (International Development Association, an affiliate of the World Bank). And while the original plan was to route this money through the newly created subsidiary NDDB Dairy Services (NDDB injected Rs.199 crore as its equity capital), this plan appears to have been shelved. What NDDB Services’ new role will be is not yet known. Nor are the tenure and interest terms for this loan. A communication from NDDB states that the project hopes to increase semen production by around 100 million doses.

But does one need World Bank loans for that? Take some of the best progressive dairies. Chitale is a small dairy farm near Kolhapur. Without a World Bank loan, it produces over a million frozen straws (frozen semen doses) a year from some of the best genetic strains of bulls. It also takes care of some 1,000 farmers in the area, using the milk to sell milk and milk products under the Chitale brand to a very limited market. Chitale may be small, but it remains one of the best examples of how the semen production industry has grown without any help from NDDB or the World Bank.
The cooperative sector which was promoted by Dr. Kurien produced 12.3 million straws in 2010-11 – Amul alone produced 1.6 million. NDDB produced less (12 million) even though it had the mandate and the funds. NGOs produced 8.8 million. And other state and central government research stations produced another 33.5 million. The total production of frozen straws that year was 66,8 million straws.

All that is needed is financial incentives – from the finance ministry — to augment production, not World Bank funds. Certainly not to an organisation that has chosen to remove all annual reports belonging to the Kurien years from its website except of the last three years and that too under pressure from dna.

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