Animal Husbandry

The Journey of Milk Production in India

20 Sep 2023
The Journey of Milk Production in India
India tops the list for consuming and producing milk and its products. Milk production is considered a huge source of employment across the country. It is in high demand because of its rich nutrients and use in making a variety of food items. Government schemes have made milk production a lucrative business for dairy farmers.

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The dairy sector in India has a vital role in boosting the Indian economy and socio-economic development of rural households. India is the largest milk producing country. Dairy farming in India is a highly attractive income source for millions of rural families. It employs a huge population of small and marginal farmers who are dependent on it for their livelihood. 

History of Milk Production in India

India was a milk-deficit country during the 1950s and 1960s. There was negative annual production growth for many years, and a huge reliance on imports. The survival of the Indian dairy industry was tough. The annual milk production stood below 21 million tonnes by 1970, even though India had the highest cattle population globally.

The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) was formed in 1965 after the late PM Lal Bahadur Shastri's visit to Gujarat. It put forward the Operation Flood (OF) programme to create an Anand Pattern for dairy cooperatives nationwide.

This pattern facilitated a cooperative structure that included the Dairy Cooperative Societies (DCSs) at the village level. These DCSs had to promote district-level unions, which had to promote the state-level marketing federation.

White Revolution

In 1970, the White Revolution (Operation Flood) was implemented across the country to develop the Anand Pattern cooperatives. Amul, founded in 1946, was a cooperative dairy whose success stimulated the White Revolution.

The first chairman of NDDB was Dr Verghese Kurien, also referred to as the ‘Father of White Revolution’ in India. He aimed to organise Anand-pattern cooperatives to procure milk from milk sheds and supply it to cities through milk cooperatives. Thus, National Milk Day is observed on the 26th of November to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Kurien.

White Revolution formed a National Milk Grid to provide quality milk in 700 towns and cities. Its main benefit was the removal of middlemen, due to which seasonal price variations were reduced. Using the cooperative structure, producing and distributing milk and milk products became easy and affordable.

Before White Revolution, the total milk production was 21.2 million tonnes in 1968-69. From 2020 to 21, it reached 210 million tonnes, achieving a growth rate of around 6%. In 1970, the daily milk consumption was only 107 grams per person. In 2021, it was noted to be 427 grams per person.

Reasons for High Milk Production and Consumption in India

Milk production and consumption in India is continuously growing due to a change in lifestyles and food habits, demographic growth and increased purchasing power of consumers. The primary drivers of milk demand are:

  • Increasing per capita income
  • Urbanisation
  • Population growth

A large section of the vegetarian population is dependent on milk for protein. People are now more interested in high-protein diets. Increasing health consciousness is increasing the demand for milk and high-value milk products. Also, dairy products are readily available via channels like organised retail chains.

World Milk Day is on the 1st of June to make people aware of the importance of dairy and milk products. Milk and its products have essential nutrients like protein, calcium, riboflavin, potassium and zinc. It can prevent osteoporosis, which is due to calcium deficiency.

People love calorie-filled milk sweets throughout the year. By 2030, the total household consumption (milk & milk products) is expected to reach 26.7 crore tonnes.

Present Status of Milk Production in India

The milk production in India for 2022-23 was 230.58 million tonnes. The milk production in India rank was 1st with a 24.64% contribution to global milk production in 2021-22. For 2014-2022, a 51% increase in milk production was noted.

Also, India exported 67,572.99 million tonnes of dairy products in 2022-23, worth Rs. 2,269.85 Crores. The top export destinations include Bhutan, the USA, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bangladesh.

Top Milk Producing States in India

While India is popular as the largest producer of milk in the world, the top milk-producing state is Uttar Pradesh. It makes up around 16% of the total amount of milk produced in India.

As per the National Dairy Development Board (2022-23), following are the top 5 milk producing states of India:


Milk Production in ‘000 tonnes

% Share

Uttar Pradesh






Madhya Pradesh






Andhra Pradesh




Government Initiatives for Milk Production

Farmers can benefit from different central government schemes for dairy development in India. These schemes deal with creating, strengthening and modernising milk processing facilities and value-added product-making plants. Also, they function to increase the share of the organised sector in relation to the procurement, processing, value addition and marketing of milk.

Other functions of government schemes include increasing milk production and productivity of bovines sustainably. The key government schemes related to milk production include:

  • Dairy Processing & Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF)
  • National Programme for Dairy Development (NPDD)
  • Rashtriya Gokul Mission (RGM)

Challenges and the Way Forward

Milk production has a pivotal role in contributing to the overall economy by generating employment and meeting nutritional needs. Several factors like market demand, infrastructure development like more milk processing and cold storage facilities, breed improvement, state government support, and cooperative models have boosted dairy farming in India.

Milk production in India has generally been impressive. However, it still faces challenges like low productivity, production inefficiency and safety & quality issues. The government needs to focus on animal health to improve their productivity. This can be achieved through suitable feed and fodder. Genetics can be enhanced to reduce the risk of diseases.

Credit financing must be easily available and accessible for small dairy producers so as to assist them in upgrading farm infrastructure. There is a big scope of improvement in cold chain management, digitisation and technology throughout the value chain. These initiatives will also help resolve safety and quality issues in milk production.

Published By
Akshay Pokharkar

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