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After South India, A New Dairy War, This Time In Madhya Pradesh

Sanchi’s sales have been on a downward trajectory since 2019.

Bhopal:

After Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the next battleground for India’s dairy industry appears to be shaping up in Madhya Pradesh, where the state’s own cooperative dairy brand, Sanchi, is being challenged by the Gujarat-based dairy behemoth Amul.

The Congress party has accused the BJP-led state government of promoting Amul and other brands at the expense of Madhya Pradesh’s own Cooperative Dairy Federation’s (MPCDF) brand Sanchi, an allegation the government has denied in a political face-off before elections due later this year.

Farmers in Mughaliya Haat village claim they have ceased selling their milk to Sanchi. Prahlad Sen, a farmer who has sold milk to Sanchi for more than two decades, recently switched to a private dairy company offering Rs 40 to Rs 45 per litre, a significant increase compared to Sanchi’s rate of Rs 30 to Rs 32. “We don’t get the desired price, that’s why we are not giving milk to Sanchi,” Mr Sen said.

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Similarly, Jitendra Dhangar, whose family has been associated with Sanchi for a quarter of a century, has started selling to Amul. The reason, once again, boils down to a more favourable pricing scheme: Amul offers between Rs 40 to Rs 43 per litre, compared to Sanchi’s Rs 32 to Rs 35.

While the Sanchi Dugdh Sangh collection centre in Mughaliya Haat village remains operational, it stands largely unused. The milk chilling point, once bustling, now lies almost vacant. Phool Singh Dhangar, manager of a cooperative society providing milk for Sanchi, cited low rates as the key issue.

“Farmers used to believe in Sanchi and cooperatives, but now private companies are giving more money to the farmers,” Mr Dhangar said.

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Dr Govind Singh, former cooperative minister and opposition leader, warned that if the current trend continues, Sanchi brand products may become obsolete within a year. He further claimed this to be part of a government conspiracy to bolster Gujarat at Madhya Pradesh’s expense.

Responding to these allegations, senior BJP leader and cooperatives minister Arvind Singh Bhadoria urged critics to “do proper study and homework” before making sweeping statements. He argued that the Sanchi brand remains profitable and continues to grow.

Despite the government’s assertion that Sanchi is still profitable, and its product range is growing, the data tells a different story. The average milk procurement by Madhya Pradesh State Cooperative Dairy Federation Limited (MPCDF) reached its peak of over 11.02 lakh kg per day in 2017-18, followed by a steady decline in subsequent years. The sales of Sanchi’s dairy products, which stood at Rs 1,751 crore in 2017-18, rose slightly in 2018-19 but have been on a downward trajectory since then.

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The controversy echoes similar situations in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, where Amul’s entry into the fresh dairy market sparked heated debates.

In Karnataka, the Amul-Nandini controversy, which flared up ahead of the assembly elections, centred around fears that Amul’s presence could undermine the local dairy industry, particularly the Karnataka Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation Limited, or KMF’s Nandini milk brand.

In Tamil Nadu, Amul’s entry led to a dispute with the regional cooperative Aavin, with Chief Minister MK Stalin urging the Home Minister to prevent Amul from procuring milk from Aavin’s home turf.

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