Milma team from Kerala to hold talks with Nandini as KMF shelves cross-border milk marketing plan

Kerala minister Chinchu Rani said the state government was not in favour of Nandini selling fresh milk in the state.

BySreerag PS

Published Jun 28, 2023 | 2:30 PMUpdatedJun 28, 2023 | 6:20 PM

Milma milk packets. (Official website)

A 10-member team from the Kerala Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (KCMMF) will hold discussions with the Karnataka Cooperative Milk Producer’s Federation Ltd (KMF) after the latter decided to drop its cross-border marketing plan.

The standoff ended after the chief executive officer of the KMF informed the KCMMF — popularly known by its brand name Milma — of its decision against opening 25 outlets in Kerala to sell its Nandini range of dairy products.

The KMF’s move to open 25 Nandini outlets over the next six months had met with stiff resistance from both Milma and the Kerala government.

The Karnataka cooperative decided to sell milk in Kerala when the BJP’s Balachandra Jarkiholi was its chairman. After the Assembly elections in that state last month, Congress leader Bhima Naik replaced Jarkiholi.

Earlier in June, the Kerala government wrote a letter to the National Diary Development Board (NDDB), seeking its intervention to prevent KMF from selling its milk products in the state. The NDDB is a statutory body under the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying.

While protesting against the KMF’s decision, Kerala also pointed out Nandini’s resistance against the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation marketing its Amul range of products in that state.

Also read: Amul announces entry into Bengaluru; farmers worry for Nandini

Kerala seeks NDDB intervention

Kerala’s Minister for Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development, and Milk Cooperatives J Chinchu Rani confirmed that Milma had received a letter from the KMF CEO that it would not market its products in the state.

Kerala Minister for Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development, and Milk Cooperatives J Chinchu Rani. (Supplied)

Kerala Minister for Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development, and Milk Cooperatives J Chinchu Rani. (Supplied)

“Both Milma and Nandini are governed by the Cooperative Law and they are bound to follow them,” she told South First on Wednesday, 28 June.

The minister felt that the KMF should have sought the approval of the government body concerned before expanding its footprint into another state.

“We communicated to KMF and NDDB that selling Nandini milk in Kerala will violate the Cooperative Law,” Rani said. “Since the NDDB coordinates with all cooperative dairy federations in the country, we sought its guidelines in the matter.”

The minister felt that the change in guard at KMF’s helm might have led it to reverse its position.

“The Kerala government is not in favour of Nandini establishing its outlets in Kerala and we have communicated our objections earlier as well.  Didn’t it (the KMF) object when Amul tried to enter the Karnataka market,” she asked.

The minister said she had asked Milma to constitute a 10-member team, including its chairman and managing director. “They (the team) will be visiting Karnataka for discussions with the authorities concerned,” she said.

The minister also questioned the Karnataka government for not stopping the sale of Nandini products in Kerala. The authorities should intervene in such matters, she opined.

“The NDDB as well as the state authorities concerned should intervene in the matter. When Karnataka’s milk is brought to Kerala, why are they not stopping it? We are not selling milk in that state. The Kerala government and Milma will bind by the Cooperative Law,” the minister asserted.

Also read: Nandini on Milma-crosshairs for selling ‘fresh products’ in Kerala

Milma chief bats for status quo

Milma Chairman KS Mani told South First that the KCMMF did not intend to turn the issue into a controversy, but would ensure that the existing cooperative norms remained intact for the betterment of the dairy farmers.

“We don’t want to turn it into a controversy and we are not against any of our sister organisations. All federations have been doing business for many decades based on the strategy developed by Verghese Kurien,” he said, referring to the Father of the White Revolution.

“The Amul pattern introduced throughout India resulted in large-scale production of milk, and we (India) became the largest producer of milk and milk products,” said Mani.

India’s contribution accounted for 24 percent of the global milk production in 2021-22.

Mani opined that while registering each federation, their jurisdictions were well-defined. Nandini recently violated it.

He also recalled that during the controversy relating to Amul and Nandini, Milma supported Nandini.

The Milma chief also recalled that the regional milk federations jointly opposed the Union government joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a China-backed free trade agreement that had 15 nations, in 2019.

“The reason was that it would affect the farmers of our country. So Milma, Amul, Nandini, and all federations unitedly objected to the move,” Mani pointed out.

He, however, added that Milma would seek national-level guidelines to address the issue.