Sunday, Oct 20, 2002
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By Our Staff Reporter
The fall of Chittoor unit, the second largest co-op dairy in the country, has propelled the propagation of the unpalatable message on the future of co-operatives and is wreaking havoc on its two-year-old progeny. On their part, the swarm of private dairies in the district are learnt to be adding fuel to the raging fire by raising doubts among milk producers on its sustenance. Aa a result, milk suppliers have started thinking twice on making supply to Balaji dairy, the only `living' co-op unit in Chittoor district.
Balaji dairy has been facing a tough time since its inception in the early nineties on a 26-acre prime land south of Tirupati as a unit of the Chittoor dairy, with a loan provided by National Dairy Development Board (NDDB). The plant construction, handled on a turnkey basis by the AP Dairy Development Co-op Federation, got off to a wayward start and came to a grinding halt when it was almost finished.
After seven years, the district unit put forth a request to the NDDB to take over its reins and as per the agreement, the NDDB will have to bear the losses, if any, while the profit goes to the Chittoor union's pocket. However, the seven years corroded much of the equipment while the working ones had gone obsolete, making the dairy cough up further towards overhaul and purchase.
In fact, it is the only unit in south India to go north. The New Delhi-based Mother Dairy, a famed producer of milk products in the country known for its stringent quality norms, has found a procurement partner in Balaji. The weekly supply to Mother Dairy is 9,000 litres of condensed milk (18,000 litres actual quantity).
However, its performance on the procurement front has never been good. Against the installed capacity to procure, store and pack one lakh litres, the dairy picks up hardly 20,000 litres a day. And the retail sale is just 8,000 litres, which is nowhere near the figures of the private ones. The onslaught by private dairies like Heritage and Dodla has always been fierce, and with its parent shutting its operations, Balaji has, of late, been finding itself in the midst of skeptic farmers suspecting it to be in doldrums and on the verge of closure.
A trip was arranged for progressive milk producers of the region to Anand, the epitome of co-op dairy movement to stress the importance of co-operatives. Also, they were taken inside the Balaji plant and the processes elaborated, to let them know what was `happening' to their milk. The social activities of the dairy, though remarkable, hardly come in for reckoning.
With the future of Chittoor unit still hanging in balance and talk of privatisation making the rounds, the NDDB officials running the Balaji unit were not inclined to take any drastic steps at the moment and were likely to continue status quo until something concrete emerges of its parent unit.
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