Delivering UP to 200 ml of milk each to school-going children may be an effective way to address the problem of chronic under-nutrition. And that’s what the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF or Amul) are aiming at.
NDDB and Amul have joined hands for ‘Giftmilk’, an initiative that will offer donors, including corporates, an opportunity to provide free milk to schools, preferably government or municipality-owned with children mainly from economically weaker sections.
The two Anand-based organisations behind Operation Flood that made the country self-sufficient in milk production during the 1970s and 1980s have set up a trust — NDDB Foundation for Nutrition (NFN) — to seek funds for milk to be sourced from dairy cooperatives and distributed in schools identified by the donors.
Once identified, the foundation will try and fulfill the requirement of supplying up to 200 ml daily for 200 schooldays in a year. The target is to reach out to a million schoolchildren by 2020, provided adequate financial support is forthcoming,” T Nanda Kumar, chairman of NDDB, told The Indian Express.
NFN was registered last month under the Societies Registration Act and Bombay Public Trusts Act. “The foundation has also applied for income-tax exemption for contributions to the programme, which will address the issue of under-nourishment as well as help lakhs of poor producers giving milk to dairy cooperatives,” he said.
Proposed to be launched in the first quarter of 2016, Giftmilk will be first rolled out in Delhi and Hyderabad, where NDDB’s major subsidiaries, Mother Dairy Fruit & Vegetable and Indian Immunologicals Ltd, have their operations.
Going forward, NFN plans to approach companies in the private and public sectors who are interested in extending the initiative to their areas of operation or preferred locations. The milk will be processed and flavoured to make it less susceptible to diversion, besides being fortified with vitamin A or other nutrients to support cognitive as well as physical growth among children.
“The entire mechanism would be operated through a transparent web-based portal that will make it possible for donors to make sure their gifted milk is, indeed, being delivered to where it is intended,” said Kumar.
Currently, milk is neither supplied through the public distribution system nor midday-meal schemes implemented by most governments, barring Karnataka and Gujarat.
In Karnataka, the Ksheera Bhagya scheme, providing free milk to all schoolchildren three days a week, was started in August 2013 mainly to deal with the problem of glut and excess procurement by the state milk federation. In Gujarat, the Doodh Sanjeevani Yojana is largely restricted to tribal talukas.