Milk is a highly nutritious food item. It is rich in high-quality protein, it is an excellent source of calcium and a great source of vitamin A and D. Both vitamins A and D are essential nutrients that play an important role in a wide variety of metabolic functions and help to maintain good health.
When milk is processed, there is a slight depletion of fat-soluble vitamins in the milk. Also, population groups that prefer the low-fat variety of milk, are usually deprived of these important micronutrients. A recent survey by the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (NNMB) and a report by the Indian Council of Medical Research, back in 2012 show that India has a very high burden of Vitamin A and D deficiencies, among both young children and adults, particularly in urban areas. These are areas where people are physically less active and have very limited exposure to sunlight. Milk is consumed by all population groups, and hence, fortification of milk with certain micronutrients is a good strategy to address micronutrient malnutrition.
For the ‘Milk Fortification Project’, the Tata Trusts have collaborated with the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and The World Bank. The Trusts’ role in this collaborative partnership is as follows:
- Technical and financial support to cooperative and private dairies in India for the milk fortification project.
- Technical assistance to the dairies for endorsement and labelling support.
- Development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and quality control protocols for the fortification of milk.
- Ensuring implementation of quality control measures and quality assurance protocols for fortified milk samples collected from dairies.
- Capacity building and training of dairy staff and/or manpower of the external implementing agency.
- Supporting communication and awareness campaigns to improve demand among consumers.
- Supporting the government in implementing the Fortified Gift Milk scheme for school children.
The organised milk sector is growing at a rate of 15% every year. The contribution of milk cooperatives to the fortifiable milk quantity is approximately 220 Lakh Litres per Day (LLPD), while the private sector contributes approximately 196 LLPD. The total quantity can potentially benefit almost 275 million people. Out of this 416 LLPD produced, about 150 LLPD gets fortified currently, reaching about 100 million people.
The Tata Trusts are working closely with The India Nutrition Initiative (TINI) to target fortifying 200 LLPD of milk this year that is likely to benefit approximately 133 million people. This will help reduce the insufficiency of Vitamin A and D significantly.
The Tata Trusts also support the initiative by state governments to provide fortified milk to the schools where currently non-fortified milk is being distributed. With the efforts of the Tata Trusts, 2.2 million school children today get fortified milk/milk powder in the states of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand.