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Ramesh letter urges dairy board rethink
- Farmers blame state for NDDB pullout

Ranchi, Jan. 3: The ugly spat between the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and the state animal husbandry department may have ended a five-year-old partnership and raised hopes of an autonomous Jharkhand milk co-op, but New Delhi is frowning.

Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh today rushed a letter to NDDB chairman Amrita Patel, requesting a rethink over the withdrawal from Jharkhand.

On September 30 last year, The Telegraph had first highlighted the split, which threatened to mar dairy prospects in the state. This morning, it carried another report on plans to promote the state’s fledgling brand Medha.

Ramesh in his letter to Patel and chief minister Arjun Munda wrote: “I am sending you an article that has appeared in today’s Telegraph. I am most surprised to read that NDDB has decided to walk away from Jharkhand. Considering the contributions that NDDB has made all over the country, it is unfortunate that the state of Jharkhand will be denied benefit of its operations.”

The letter, a copy of which was mailed to this correspondent, further read: “I am sure you will agree with me that it is states like Jharkhand that require organisations like NDDB the most. Not just in (marketing of) milk, but also in other areas like marketing of fruits and vegetables in which Jharkhand has significant potential. Could the decision be reviewed?”

The NDDB, which was roped in five years ago to boost dairy culture in the state by helping it establish procurement and selling units, has ended its services in Jharkhand.

Although it completed its tenure, the dairy board expressed unwillingness to work any further in a state, where there was “no co-operation” from the government and “work culture is poor”. Add to this the stranglehold of red tape, which it alleged, had taken a toll on NDDB efficiency through its tenure.

On the other hand, the animal husbandry department claimed that the dairy board had miserably failed in their endeavour and was “doing nothing good to improve prospects” of the state.

However, if some independent farmers are to be believed, the government’s attitude is to be blamed.

“As an independent cattle-rearer, I know my income increased ever since NDDB came here. Earlier, we didn’t know where to sell milk and dairy products because the market was not organised. Then, a time came when milk was procured by NDDB people on a daily basis from my home, while payments were made on every week. The department never came door-to-door to improve our livelihood,” said Jai Shankar, a dairy farmer in Mandar.

“It was more of an ego clash. Government officials are used to cuts and commissions, and the NDDB was proving to be a hurdle. Can anyone ever win with the government?” he added.

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