Dr Kurien’s advice in 1980 to the then Chairman of the Union was “ The only way to become strong was for the farmers co-operative to own and manage the operations of their own milk processing plant” . He had told Shri. Anandrao Patil to purchase a parcel of land near Kolhapur, and NDDB would help in constructing a new dairy.
Gokul Dairy Kolhapur. currently handles over 11 lakh litres of milk per day. When Dr Kurien first visited Kolhapur pur in 1980 milk collection was 60000 litres per day.
NDDB team was deployed in the Kolhapur Milk shed during the period from 1978-1983. Kolhapur district was chosen as one of the 18 Anand pattern Unions to be created all over the country.
The milk sheds were chosen purely based on their merits of milk production in the milk shed. In the state of Maharashtra, only two milk sheds were chosen, one was Jalgaon and other Kolhapur.
During the period 1977-78, Shri. Vasantdada Patil was the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
He wanted Sangli district to be included under Operation Flood Programme. But, because of plenty of buffalo milk in Kolhapur district, NDDB preferred inclusion of Kolhapur milk shed under OF programme.
NDDB team leader Shri. V.G. Patil and myself were deployed to Kolhapur for milk project in 1978 and later on other team members joined the project.
In the year 1980, we got the information that Dr. Kurien was travelling by road along with on the way to Otty, Tamilnadu.
We decided to take this opportunity and on behalf of Kolhapur Milk union, requested Dr. Kurien to take a halt at Kolhapur. After few days, we got a message that Dr. Kurien had agreed for just few hours halt at Kolhapur on his way to Otty.
Generally, Dr. Kurien never visited the place which is not connected by airport. He travelled a lot and visited several Indian capitals, and was always very busy.
This was a rare opportunity for us, that he was on private tour and was travelling by road along with his family.
We were trying for his visit to Kolhapur since long because we thought that his visit would be of great inspiration for the farme leaders and NDDB team working in Kolhapur project. Each time we were told that Kolhapur being in one corner of the state and not well connected with the airport, it was not possible to organize visit of Dr. Kurien.
Therefore, this visit was something like “wind fall” opportunity for us to motivate local leaders and officers working in the project.
At that time, the Kolhapur milk project was in its nascent stage. There was a small 50,000 lit. per day capacity Govt. dairy at Kolhapur and union office was located in a rented small building near hotel Opal. Shri. Anandrao Patil (Chuyekar) the founder chairman of Kolhapur Milk Union was a very simple person. He was not able to communicate with Dr. Kurien in English or Hindi. Therefore, that day the responsibility of translating what Shri. Anandrao Patil Chuyekar was saying, was entrusted to me. It was a challenging task.
No sooner the family of Dr. Kurien had arrived, they were taken to the Opal hotel, where they freshen up and took lunch.
Meanwhile, Dr. Kurien visited our office which was just near the hotel. Shri. Anandrao Patil Chuyekar narrated to him about milk collection which was around 60,000 lit per day and how he was implementing the project and what sort of difficulties he was facing. Dr. Kurien told Shri. Anandrao Patil that the essence of Anand Pattern and development of Amul and its self reliance.
He told that, if the Kolhapur Union relied on government dairy for processing of milk, they would never let co-operate become strong. The only way to become strong was for farmers co-operative to own and manage the operations of their own milk processing plant. . He told Shri. Anandrao Patil to purchase a parcel of land near Kolhapur, and NDDB would help in constructing a new dairy.
He also said to Shri. Anandrao Patil that Kolhapur district is a potential area to procure, process and market few lakh litres of milk. What was important was that the Kolhapur Union should control assets and carry out marketing activities themselves. Shri. Anandrao Patil was happy with the visit of Dr. Kurien.
This visit was a turning point in the history of Kolhapur Milk Union. The milk union followed the ideas of Dr. Kurien word by word and never looked back. Dr. Kurien used to quote example of Kolhapur Milk Union to others.
He knew with his experience that the Kolhapur Milk Union would become one of the 18 Anands which he had dreamt of.
Contributed by Dr. DV Ghanekar NDDB 1974- 2009 and Kolhapur Milk Producers Union 2009 continuing