Dr. Amrita Patel was the Chairman of National Dairy Development Board from 1998 to 2014, the organisation which steered India’s cooperative dairy movement and led the country to becoming the largest milk producer in the world. Dr Patel played a major role in promoting much greater participation of women in cooperatives and in preparing them for leadership positions.
As the Dairy Board’s Managing Director, Dr. Patel was responsible for the implementation of the national dairy programme, Operation Flood – the largest programme in the world using food aid for development. The programme helped to promote, finance and deliver a variety of supporting services to a national cooperative dairy structure that included more than 15 million members from over 150,000 village dairy cooperative societies, affiliated to 183 district and regional unions and 22 state cooperative federations. This movement had a major impact on India’s dairying, resulting in substantial increase in India’s milk production making it the largest milk producer in the world, and resulting in increasing animal productivity, adoption of better husbandry and feeding practices and increased producer incomes.
Dr. Patel has been involved in activities ranging from livestock development, disease control, vaccine production, R&D and policy review to banking and finance through her nomination on the Boards of RBI and NABARD.
There are two other vital areas which are of grave concern to her – environment and health. She has played a leading role in advocacy of environmental protection and stability. Dr. Patel is Chairman of the Foundation for Ecological Security which works on strengthening the processes of ecological restoration across local, regional and national landscapes including different categories of lands and most importantly with a variety of community institutions. Dr. Patel is also the Chairman of the Sardar Patel Renewable Energy Research Institute.
Dr. Patel’s strong commitment to healthcare services for rural people, and women in particular, finds expression in her chairing the CharutarArogya Mandal, a Trust that manages a modern 550 bed rural hospital and medical, physiotherapy and nursing colleges which serve the rural people of Kheda.
Dr. Patel has been conferred the Padma Bhushan and numerous other awards and honorary degrees like Dr. Norman Borlaug Award, Financial Express Lifetime Achievement Award, Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Award for Nation Building for the year 1999-2000, World Dairy Expo Inc.’s International Person of the Year for the year 1997, to name a few.