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The country’s largest dairy federation, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF, owner of the Amul brand), with annual turnover of Rs 270 billion, unanimously elected its chairman from among the chiefs of 18 milk unions. Ramsinh Parmar, chairman of Kaira Milk Union, contemporary of former chairman Parthi Bhatol and seniormost of all the current milk union chiefs, was elected. Parmar is a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He’d defected from the Indian National Congress ahead of the recent state Assembly election. Five-time member of the legislative Assembly (MLA), he’d lost to the Congress' Kantibhai Parmar from Thasra constituency in Kheda district. Sources indicate the final decision regarding the federation's chairman is taken by the BJP top brass, now that all the milk unions are headed by BJP leaders. Parmar said it was a great honour to lead an institution driven by the legendary V Kurien. He added the combination of dynamic farmer leadership and professional management had made the federation the country’s largest food organisation and among the top 13 dairy companies of the world. GCMMF has set a target to achieve milk handling and marketing capability for 40 million litres a day (mlpd) by 2020 and turnover to Rs 500 billion. Insiders were expecting Banaskantha milk union chairman Shankar Chaudhary or Panchmahal-based Panchamrut dairy head Jetha Bharwad (also vice-chairman of GCMMF and re-elected) to be chairman. However, Chaudhary himself proposed the nomination of Parmar in Monday's election. This year's elections were largely uneventful compared to the earlier one in 2015. That one had split the dairy sector in Gujarat into two camps, Bharwad's (who had support from dairy unions of Saurashtra) and the other unions. Sabar dairy's Jetha Patel had got elected as GCMMF chairman and then in December 2015, Bharwad was elected vice-chairman.
A change was brought in its by-laws to create the latter post, for the first time since the federation's inception in 1973.Prior to that there was bitter politicking in the federation surrounding the ouster of Vipul Chaudhary, chairman of Mehsana-based Dudhsagar Dairy. This time, sources indicate, the current chairman of the Mehsana milk union, Asha Thakor (largely considered a protege of Chaudhary) had staked a claim for the top post, stressing a female board member should get a chance to head the federation. Parmar's election is considered a good move by dairy sector insiders here, as he is well versed with the working of the federation, thanks to his long association with GCMMF. GCMMF is India's largest food products organisation, with annual sale of Rs 270 billion in FY17. It markets the Amul brand of milk and milk products and procures 21 mlpd from 3.6 million dairy farmers in 18,549 villages. Parmar's own Kaira Union is one of the largest, with annual sales of about Rs 55 bn and membership of 600,000 milk producers. It procured an average of three mlp during 2017-18. It has dairy plants in Anand district having capacity of 2.8 mlpd, a plant at Pune and in West Bengal. Bharwad's Panchmahal District Cooperative Milk Producers Union has annual sales of about Rs 18 bn and membership of 290,000 milk producers. It procured an average of 1.3 mlpd milk in 2017-18.