I recently came across an article in the Times of India newspaper featuring Verghese Kurien, the father of India’s white revolution.
He says in that article:
When noted dairyman and director of dairy research in New Zealand Professor William Riddet visited Anand, he told me that he was happy to know that I had made a significant name in the dairy industry at such a young age. Then he asked me: “But, why are you such a bloody fool? Why are you working on a project that is bound to fail?” I told him that I would make it. He asked me if there was anything on earth that could dissuade me from embarking on a project that was bound to fail and I replied “nothing.”
I started wondering about why converting Buffalo Milk into powder is so important. It turns out that India has amongst the world’s largest populations of Buffalos – we have close to 50% of the total population of buffalos.
By extension, we also produce a lot of buffalo milk whereas most other countries mainly produce cow’s milk. During the lean months, when milk supply is not high, it is common practice to mix in milk reconstituted from milk powder to supplement the supply. Because, we could not convert Buffalo Milk into powder, we faced a serious issue of over supply in peak months and under supply in lean months. If the White Revolution had to take off, we absolutely needed to figure out a way to convert Buffalo Milk into powder.
This is what drove Verghese Kurien and H.M. Dalaya to figure out a way to do the impossible. Here is an article that was written when Dalaya passed away in the Hindu Business Line.
IF there is one technological breakthrough that truly revolutionised India’s organised dairy industry, it is the making of milk powder out of buffalo milk. And the man who made this possible defying prevailing technical wisdom — Mr H.M. Dalaya — passed away in Pune on Sunday, aged 83.
It is not clear why the scientists thought that buffalo milk could not be converted into milk powder. After reading several articles, it appears it is due to the fact that Buffalo Milk has amongst the highest fat content. Perhaps, the high fat content somehow interferes with the spray drying process used for producing milk powder.
If there is some dairy expert out there, please let us know the real reason.
The White Revolution or Operation Flood has been so successful that India was transformed into the world’s largest milk producer in 1997 and has retained its leadership since – one of the few areas in which we are ahead of China.
By their pioneering efforts, Kurien and Dalaya proved an old Arabic proverb – “the difficult is done at once; the impossible takes a little longer.”