He will be the first ever IAS officer to become NDDB Chairman. Both Patel and her illustrious predecessor Verghese Kurien, who was chairman from 1965 to 1998, have been dairy professionals. The NDDB Act requires the chairman to be a person “professionally qualified in...dairying, animal husbandry, rural economics, rural development, business administration or banking”. Nanda Kumar’s role as Secretary, Food and Agricultural Ministries during 2006-11 – a period when India managed to successfully deal with grain shortages amidst soaring global prices and the 2009 drought seems to have prompted his choice.
NDDB’s heydays were during 1970-95, when it implemented the Operation Flood, making India self-sufficient in milk by ending its reliance on imports. But since then, there have been two major developments. The first is the rise in consumption of dairy items, with milk now accounting for the largest share of food expenditure in urban India and next only to cereals in rural areas. The second is the role of the private sector that has accounted for the bulk of the new capacities created.The private sector has 55 % share in total organised milk procurement in the country today, while the cooperatives, except Amul or Karnataka’s Nandini, have stopped growing.