Breaking News

The Great Goan Milk Cake

THE Goa government approved and facilitated the entry of Surat District Co-operative Milk Producers Union (SUMUL) into the state milk sector early this year, and it continues to give it strong backing, as was clear from the responses of Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and Minister for Co-operation Mahadev Naik in the Assembly on Thursday to a lack of compliance to rules by SUMUL brought up by Naresh Sawal, MLA from Bicholim. According to the Goa Co-operative Societies Act, a co-operative has to formulate its bye-laws and submit them to the government without 3 months of starting its functioning. However, SUMUL, which started functioning in the state about 6 months ago, had not yet submitted its bye-laws to the government. The Minister for Co-operation could not explain the delay in government action against SUMUL for non-compliance of this rule when the department of co-operation takes action against other co-operative bodies on this ground. There has been allegation of the Goa government favouring SUMUL from the very beginning. If the state government does not take action against SUMUL for non-compliance to rules or for not fulfilling promises such as providing training to Goan farmers and bringing cows from Gujarat to Goa, the suspicion would only get deeper. Minister for Co-operation has assured that he would direct SUMUL to formulate and submit its bye-laws to the government within one month. He must also assure that no special favours would be shown to SUMUL.
SUMUL has been given permission for milk collection in the four talukas of Sattari, Sanguem, Quepem and Canacona talukas. All indications are that SUMUL may ask for permission for operations in some other talukas and the state government will grant the permission. From the strong endorsement of SUMUL performance by Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and Minister for Co-operation Mahadev Naik in the Assembly there can hardly be any doubt that SUMUL is on road to getting a larger piece of the milk cake of Goa. Naik was full of praise for SUMUL for paying more money than Goa Dairy to the farmers for cow and buffalo milk. The depth of inroads made by SUMUL is apparent from the following fact: during March-June 2016 SUMUL collected 3.34 lakh litres of milk from farmers, while Goa Dairy collected 7.74 lakh litres. The quantity of milk collection by Goa Dairy has gone down significantly in the four talukas given to SUMUL.
Goa Dairy’s worst fears are coming true. The officials of Goa Dairy had tried all means, from political lobbying to media publicity to legal recourse, to oppose the state government’s decision to allow SUMUL to start its operations in Goa. In support of their claim to continue having a virtual monopoly of milk collection in the state, Goa Dairy pleaded that they had created a network and base for milk collection and marketing of dairy products in the state and had also taken several measures to improve dairy farming including training to farmers. However, Goa Dairy was sailing against the current. In an era when trade and economic barriers are breaking down, opposition to the entry of another player did not seem rational. The market for milk and dairy products has been growing exponentially in Goa, and there was scope for more than one player in the sector. By the same logic which could not stop SUMUL starting operations in Goa, the Goa Dairy would be free tomorrow to start their operations in any other state.
While the state government must never make SUMUL their favourite and play foul with Goa Dairy, because that would be denying the Goa Dairy a level playing field, the Goa Dairy at the same time should concentrate on providing a good competition to SUMUL, or for that matter any other new player that might step into the milk and dairy products market of Goa. Years of monopoly had made Goa Dairy complacent, slothful and unimaginative. SUMUL has given them a major jolt: they must wake up and reinvent themselves. They should begin asking themselves why more and more farmers in the four talukas of Sattari, Sanguem, Quepem and Canacona are selling milk to SUMUL. Why cannot Goa Dairy give milk producers better terms than SUMUL? The main god to please in the milk business is the farmer: Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and Minister for Co-operation Mahadeo Naik are speaking about and doing things only to please the same god. If the milk producers switch to SUMUL nobody can help Goa Dairy. But if milk producers stick to or switch back to the Goa Dairy even the attitude of the politicians in power would change in favour of Goa Dairy. It is up to the Goa Dairy to take up the challenge or go down wallowing in self-pity thinly disguised as parochialism.

Check Also

Rebuilding Lives

Nation must join hands to help West Bengal, Odisha Adding to the great human crisis …