Amul dairy is an Indian dairy cooperative, based in Anand in the state of Gurjarat, India. Today, it is one of Oxfam’s biggest success stories and has become the largest milk brand in India. The word Amul originated from the Sanskrit word Amulya, meaning invaluable and this cooperative has no doubt been indispensible to the local community.
Amul dairy was established in 1946, after several smaller cooperatives had formed in response to the exploitation of marginal milk producers in the small town of Anand. In 1946, the Indian government had given monopoly rights to Polson Dairy to collect milk from Anand and supply it to the Bombay Milk Scheme. However, local milk producers were dissatisfied with the low prices they were being paid by Polson Dairy and under the leadership of a local farmer, Tribhuvandas K. Patel, they formed a small cooperative to supply milk directly to the Bombay Milk Scheme. The cooperative, called the Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers Union Ltd., was further developed to collect and process milk and soon smaller cooperatives were set up in each district. The cooperatives operated under the brand name Amul and under the watchful eye of Dr. Verghese Kurien, the cooperatives were able to grow to compete against other establish dairy producers in the market.
In 1973, the district cooperatives set up in Mehsana, Banaskantha, Baroda, Sabarkantha and Surat merged together to expand further in the market. They were combined and managed by a cooperative body, the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. (GCMMF) and kept the brand name Amul.
Today, Amul dairy is one of India’s success stories and organizes over 10,000 village cooperatives in India. For many of India’s rural areas, daily milk sales are an essential part of their income. The entire process from taking the milk to the market and selling it to collect payments carries with it much inefficiency. Amul dairy has been successful in transforming the entire process, by implementing a computerized collection and payment system that reduces the time taken for weighing, quality testing, and payment processing. Each day, milk is collected no more than 10 miles from the farmer, with this nationwide, decentralized collection process.
Amul dairy has been key in uplifting the social and economic status of women who are often the ones involved with dairy production. In fact, Amul dairy purchases their milk exclusively from women. This has helped increase the status of women and helped provide them with an additional source of income for their family to alleviate poverty and promote social justice.
Cooperatives such as Amul dairy have highlighted the importance of small scale, family farms in providing food security and economic empowerment to marginalized communities. It is now one of the world’s largest producers in milk and milk products, and continues to develop a positive brand image for India’s food product business.