In 1970, an ambitious program was launched by the government to increase the milk production with two stated goals — a) make it affordable, and b) increase income of dairy farmers.
Dr V Kurien was appointed by the government to deploy this as an experiment by trying new methods like employing modern machinery and assimilating dairy farmers under an organized sector.
One could argue that it worked as in 30 years, India became the largest producer of the milk.
Operation Flood or White Revolution, as we call it, has been termed as one of the best possible thing to happen in this nation.
But was it? We don’t think so.
Just an aside, credit where it’s due: organizing farmers under a co-op society and making them beneficiaries in the process was truly a great decision. The success Amul found with this model was quickly replicated across the country (and rightly so). But sadly, our praise ends there.
Complex Problems Require Utmost Understanding of the Problem
Large scale problems need thorough understanding of the problem at hand. This is especially true when the problem is complex and the solution proposed is too simple without understanding the ramifications.
This phenomenon (when attempted solution makes problem even worse has been given a nice name that has its origins in India) is called Cobra effect. The anecdote goes like this¹: The British government was concerned about the number of venomous cobra snakes in Delhi. The government therefore offered bounty for every dead cobra. Initially, this worked well as large numbers of snakes were killed for the reward. Eventually, however, people began to breed cobras for the income. And when the government became aware of this, the reward was scrapped, causing the cobra breeders to set the now-worthless snakes free! As a result, the wild cobra population further increased. The apparent solution for the problem made the situation even worse.
Our government babus did exactly the same in the 70s. Without analyzing the problem/situation, they imported semens and did rampant artificial insemination to get few more liters of milk from exotic breeds.
Well, How We Got Here?
Let’s understand why this so called revolution is causing so much damage:
- As part of the policy, government encouraged rampant crossbreeding but most of the western breeds had a hard time adjusting to the hot tropical climate in India
- Because of the government apathy, many desi breeds (without a doubt — India’s invaluable heritage) like Punganur and Vechur are on the verge of extinction²
- Exotic crossbred cattle, recommended by government, are a) disease-prone, and b) need high-nutrition diet with AC shelters, but most of the poor, resource-strapped farmers can’t afford the upkeep (note that these poor farmers own 68% of India’s dairy cattle which makes this decision of rampant crossbreeding even more appalling)
- Policy-makers lured the farmers by promising high milk yield without considering long-term implications. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the data they considered to prove exotic breeds produce more yield was also skewed to begin with as they a) didn’t factor in high maintenance of exotic breeds and cost of milk production, b) didn’t weigh in on higher lactation period of desi cows, and c) most importantly, didn’t consider various health benefits of nutritious A2 milk from Desi cows
- Milk from these crossbreeds, which is termed A1 milk (the milk you’re most probably drinking), isn’t as healthy as from native/desi breeds. In fact, recent studies have linked increase in Diabetes Type I and heart-related diseases with A1 milk
- Many of the Indian desi breeds were also used for ploughing but that number is getting smaller everyday impacting agriculture
- This whole White Revolution also inspired Green Revolution which brought in even bigger havoc³ (more on that here)
It’s worth noting here that Brazil imported desi breeds from India and they are doing quite well. In fact, in 2011, a pure Gir named Quimbanda Cal broke its own 2010 record of delivering 10,230 kiloliters of milk a year, with a daily yield of 56.17 kiloliters
Say NO to Regular, Harmful A1 Milk
A question must have come to you — how can I do my bit? Well, as long as demand is there, supply isn’t gonna dry up.
Majority of the milk nowadays comes from the hybrid cows (Jersey/HF) that are fed hormones and GMO fodder. As noted before, the milk you get from these crossbred cows (called A1) is definitely cheaper, but isn’t healthy at all — we’d rather prefer you not drink milk than consuming A1 milk.
If you don’t demand better milk, you won’t get it. Be the change you wish to see in the world — it starts with you⁴. Asking for desi cow milk will force co-op societies to start rearing desi cows and once the demand is established, it gets much easier.
Happy Cow, Healthy Milk
Most of the dairy farms keep cows tied up in a stable with not enough space to move around and exist purely for economic benefits.
If you’ve seen one of those freed cows jumping with joy, you know how happy they are!
These are the things we observed few months ago and decided to do something about it (we believe in having skin in the game). As with everything we’ve done, when we decided to launch Desi Cow Milk, we wanted to do it the right way.
So here we are. The milk we’re providing is coming from naturally-grazing, stress-free, and happy Indian humped cows. It’s fresh Desi Milk — unprocessed, pure, and nutritious.
If you’re interested and want to get it delivered to your doorstep, please fill out this short form.