T. Nanda Kumar will be the new Chairman of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), replacing Amrita Patel who has been holding the post since 1998.
Nanda Kumar, currently Member of the National Disaster Management Authority, is slated to take over from March 1. “His name has been cleared by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister. Patel is currently on extension and will remain as Chairman till February 28,”.
Nanda Kumar will be the first ever person from the Indian Administrative Service to hold the position of NDDB Chairman. Both Patel and her illustrious predecessor Verghese Kurien, who was chairman from 1965 to 1998, have dairy professional backgrounds.
The NDDB Act requires the chairman to be a person “professionally qualified in…dairying, animal husbandry, rural economics, rural development, business administration or banking”.
In this case, Nanda Kumar’s role as Secretary in the Food and Agricultural Ministries during 2006-11 – a period when India managed to successfully deal with impending grain shortages against a background of soaring global prices and the calamitous drought of 2009 – is what seems to have prompted his choice.
“The grain problem is more or less manageable today. But the same cannot be said about milk and vegetables, where consumption is growing and NDDB has a huge role to play. The organisation has not done enough in the last ten years and needs more decisive management. Nanda Kumar, given his past experience, was seen to fit the bill and it was the Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar who recommended his name”, the sources added.
NDDB’s heydays were in 1970-95, when it implemented the Operation Flood programme that made India self-sufficient in milk production and end reliance on imports of milk powder and butter oil. But since then, there have been two major developments.
The first is the sudden surge in consumption of dairy products with the pick-up in growth and overall rising incomes. Milk now accounts for largest share of food spend in urban India and next only to cereals in rural areas.
The second is the role of the private sector. While till the early nineties, there were hardly any large organised private dairies barring the odd Nestle India or Milkfood Ltd, it is this sector that has accounted for the bulk of the new capacities created since then.
The private sector has an estimated 55 per cent share in total organised milk procurement in the country today, while the cooperatives – with the exception of Amul or Karnataka’s Nandini – have practically stopped growing.
“NDDB needs to change its mandate. If the idea is augment milk production, there is no reason why it shouldn’t extend funding to private dairies, especially in back-end activities such as artificial insemination, veterinary support and fodder development,” a sector expert pointed out.