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Amul stays out of NDDB’s milk-fortification programme

Says, will prefer natural fortification as against synthetic fortification of milk

The ambitious milk-fortification programme of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) is seen facing dissent on its home ground. The Anand-headquartered apex dairy institution has encountered resistance to its proposal from its neighbour and India’s largest dairy player, Amul.

Aimed at addressing the Vitamin A and D deficiencies in India through a collaborative initiative of the World Bank, Tata Trusts and NDDB, the initiative looks at large-scale fortification of milk with Vitamin A and D. To this, the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), which sells the Amul brand of milk products, has raised an objection and refused to join the NDDB mission to address Vitamin A and D deficiency.

All for natural fortification

“We don't follow this concept. We are more in favour of natural fortification to address vitamin deficiency. The current fortification ... is like a medication, which chemically fortifies the milk. Amul is not for synthetic and artificial fortification,” RS Sodhi, Managing Director, GCMMF, told Businessline. The natural fortification, as Sodhi explains, would not damage the body even in cases where there is no deficiency. But a chemically fortified product behaves like a medicine, which if used in excess can become toxic for the body and disturbs the synthesis process of the vitamins. “We are seeing an increased trend towards natural fortification even in the Western market,” he said. Amul, however, doesn’t have any vitamin-fortified product in its portfolio.

Government data under the National Family Health Survey- 4 showed that among children under 5 years in India, 38.4 per cent are stunted, 21 per cent are wasted and 35.7 per cent are underweight.

Micro-nutrient deficiencies such as iron, folic acid, vitamin B12, zinc and vitamin D are highly prevalent in rural and urban centres, impacting public health and economic productivity.

India being the world’s largest milk producing country, with per capita milk availability at 375 grams per day, milk fortification is seen as an affordable and cost effective way to address vitamin deficiency. Per NDDB estimates, fortification costs less than 2 to 3 paise per litre. In the past two years, the programme ‘Improved Nutrition through Milk Micronutrient Fortification’ has seen significant progress.

About 25 milk federations/producer companies or milk unions across 20 states in India are fortifying about 55 lakh litres of milk per day (LLPD).

Where it’s happening

Last month, Karnataka Co-operative Milk Producers Federation (KMF) or Nandini Dairy launched its Vitamin A and D fortified milk across the State.

Besides that, State dairy federations from nine other States, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, UP, Uttarakhand, Mahananda and Odisha have officially launched Milk Fortification.

Also, six producer companies or milk unions from Jalgaon, Krishna, Maahi, Mulukanoor, Nalgonda, Rajarambapu Union and WAMUL, have also launched the fortified milk, NDDB data showed.

The project, which has a duration of 23 months, has two aims — first, to process about 2 million metric tonnes of fortified liquid milk and second, 30 million individuals will be consuming fortified milk.

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