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HomeExplainerIndia’s Milk Output Continues Upward Curve That Started From 1970

India’s Milk Output Continues Upward Curve That Started From 1970

Ahead of the World Dairy Summit that took place between September 12 and September 15 in New Delhi, the BJP’s official Twitter handle tweeted out a short video, charting India’s dairy story, while stating that India is charting new heights in the sector under PM Narendra Modi’s leadership.

Modi spoke at the inaugural session of the summit, which was last held in India in 1974. According to the Indian Express, Modi said the total value of dairy production in the country is about Rs 8.5 lakh crore, which is more than the combined value of paddy and wheat production. Modi said, “India produced 146 million tonnes of milk in 2014. It has now increased to 210 million tonnes. That is, an increase of about 44 per cent,” while adding the per capita availability of milk in India is higher than the world average. Union Cabinet Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Parshottam Rupala said in 1974, when the summit was last held in India, milk production was 23 million tonnes, which has now increased to 220 million tonnes.

According to the Centre’s Economic Survey (2021-22), India is ranked first in milk production, contributing 23% of the global milk output. Milk production in the country has grown at a compound annual growth rate of about 6.2 per cent to reach 209.96 million tonnes in 2020-21, the survey stated.  According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, India is the world’s largest milk producer, with 22 percent of global production, followed by the United States of America, China, Pakistan and Brazil.

India’s growth story in milk production was on the back of Dr Verghese Kurien’s work.  November 26 is celebrated as National Milk Day to commemorate the birth anniversary of Kurien, who is known as the father of White Revolution in India.

According to this press release from National Milk Day 2021, milk production in the country was stagnant during the 1950s and 1960s and annual production growth was negative for many years. The annual compound growth rate in milk production during the first decade after independence was 1.64%; during the 1960s, this growth rate declined to 1.15%.2. In 1950-51, per capita consumption of milk in the country was only 124 grams per day. By 1970 this figure had dropped to 107 grams per day, one of the lowest in the world and well below the minimum recommended nutritional standards.  

Dr Kurien’s “Operation Flood” programme, launched in 1970, helped dairy farmers direct their own development, placing control of the resources they create in their own hands, while developing a National Milk Grid that linked milk producers throughout India with consumers in over 700 towns and cities. This programme helped increase milk production, augment rural incomes, and allowed for reasonable prices for consumers. In fact, the FAO noted that since the 1970s, most of the expansion in milk production has been in South Asia, which is the main driver of milk production growth in the developing world.

Milk production in 1968-69 prior to the launch of Operation Flood was 21.2 million tonnes (MT), which increased to 30.4 MT by 1979-80, 51.4 MT by 1989-90 and 84.6 MT by 2001-02. India became the world’s largest milk producer, surpassing the USA in 1997-98. In three decades (1980s, 1990s and 2000s), the daily milk consumption in the country rose from a low of 107 grams per person in 1970 to over 226 grams per person in 2002.

Ahead of the World Dairy Summit, the BJP tweeted out a short video, stating that India is charting new heights in the sector under PM Modi. India became the world’s largest milk producer, surpassing the USA in 1997-98.
Graph of India eclipsing US in milk output in 1997 Credit: Our World in Data

From 1961 to 1996, the US was the leading producer of milk. In 1997, India produced 71.08 MT, topping the US’s 70.82 MT. India has maintained that position since then, steadily increasing the gap till 2018, from where a slight dip is seen, although keeping a wide gap with the US. 

We then charted India’s milk output through the UPA years (2004-14) and NDA (2014-2020), as per the figures from the central government. 

YearProduction (MT)Per Capita Availability (g/day)
2004-05 92.5233
2005-06 97.1241
2006-07 102.6251
2007-08 107.9260
2008-09 112.2266
2009-10 116.4273
2010-11 121.8281
2011-12 127.9290
2012-13 132.4299
2013-14 137.7307
2014-15 146.3322
2015-16 155.5337
2016-17 165.4355
2017-18 176.3375
2018-19 187.7394
2019-20 198.4406
Source: Basic Animal Husbandry Statistics, DAHD&F, GoI

From these figures, we observed that there has always been a steady increase in both output and per capita availability. Milk production rose 44.08% from 2013-14 to 2019-20 (10 NDA’s reign of seven years so far), while the rise was 56.29% from 2003-04 to 2013-14 (UPA’s reign of 10 years). Similarly, the daily milk consumption in the country rose 32.24% in NDA’s rule of seven years (2013-14 to 2019-20), while the increase was 36.4% (2003-04 to 2013-14) in UPA’s 10-year reign. According to the Financial Express, India’s per capita availability of milk more than doubled during 1991-2018, with the production growing at a 4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

In terms of budgetary allocation, the Centre’s budget for FY22 set aside Rs6,407.31 crore for the ministry of fisheries, animal husbandry, and dairying, an increase of 44%. The Rashtriya Gokul Mission, initiated in December 2014, was one of the key schemes of this government that emphasised on crossbreeding for enhancing milk production in the country.  Due to implementation of the scheme and other measures taken by Government of India, the CAGR of milk production in the country during 2013-14 to 2020-21 is 6.21%, read the 2021-22 annual report by the ministry of fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying. 

According to Modi’s speech at the recent dairy summit, India is building the largest database of dairy animals with every animal associated with the dairy sector being tagged. He added that more than 1,000 startups have been set up in the agriculture and dairy sector in the past 5-6 years, all part of the slew of government initiatives to boost milk production. Dairy is the single largest agricultural commodity, contributing to 5% of the national economy.

However, we learnt that despite being the global leader in milk production, India is not a top exporter, owing to the fact that its output is used to fulfil most of the country’s domestic requirements and that “Indian milk” fails many leading international specifications for quality. In fact, a 2018 study conducted in the country by FSSAI revealed that only 62.3% milk sold meets the standard, which is far below the global average. “There are many factors which are taken into consideration while granting [global] market access. The World Organisation for Animal Health governs this issue and lays down protocol for export. We meet those standards for certain dairy products but not for liquid milk due to issues around ‘foot and mouth disease’ (FMD) in cattle,” said Atul Chaturvedi, secretary, animal husbandry and dairying, while sharing details of the summit.

NITI Aayog has reportedly estimated that India’s milk production is again set to nearly double over the next decade, with the increase in supply far outpacing the demand. Milk production is expected to increase to around 330 million tonnes in the next 10 years. The increase in milk supply is pegged to exceed demand by 38 million tonnes in 10 years, likely making it a milk-surplus country by 2033.


Our World in Data graph
PIB release, November 26, 2021

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