India's Milkman: Honoring The Late Verghese Kurien
Verghese Kurien, at the age of 90, passed away Sunday. Throughout the 1960's and 70's, Kurien pioneered a cooperative farming model on local, and eventually national, scales that restored marketing and processing profits to the dairy producers. Under Kurien's model, the Indian dairy industry flourished, as did his own diverse brand of dairy, Amul. The Wall Street Journal profiles the influential businessman and farmer's advocate:
As he expanded cooperatives around the state, the man who would come to be known as “India’s Milkman” began to get recognition for his success. According to a recently published book about Amul, Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri visited Anand in 1964 and Mr. Kurien gave him a tour, introducing him to farmers in nearby villages.
The prime minister was so blown away by the success of the cooperative model that he decided to pursue it nationally, creating the National Dairy Development Board the following year and naming Mr. Kurien as its chairman. In 1970, the national board launched “Operation Flood” – also known as the White Revolution – which aimed to use cooperatives to boost milk production and rural incomes while ensuring fair prices for consumers.
Spanning two decades, the movement was a great success: tens of thousands of small co-operatives were added to the network, milk sheds were built and linked to consumers in major cities, women were given a large role in procurement, and animal health and nutrition became a much higher priority.