The government of Maharashtra has agreed to meet representatives of various farmer organizations and dairies to resolve the issue of falling prices of milk because of renewed lockdown in several parts of the state.
As a result of falling demand, milk farmers are being forced to sell their produce at Rs 16-17 per litre to dairies. Some dairy owners have also spilled milk on the roads to highlight their woes. Several farmer organisations have called for suspension of milk procurement.
Farmers’ organisations across Maharashtra have threatened an agitation to get remunerative milk prices for the producers as farm gate prices have plunged to Rs 17/litre. They have declared August 1 to protest against the drop in prices. “Farmers were getting Rs 30-35/litre for cow’s milk before lockdown. Now, after the unlocking, the situation is more or less back to normal and yet farmers are getting only Rs 17/litre,” said Dr Ajit Navale,general secretary, All India Kisan Sabha (Maharashtra).
The political parties in opposition in Maharashtra too have extended their support to the agitation for milk prices. The Mahayuti, led by former chief minister Devendra Fadanvis has threatened to intensify the agitation from August 1, if the state government does not resolve the issue.
The agitating farmers’ organisations are demanding a subsidy of Rs 10/litre to be paid directly to the farmers bank account, incentive of Rs 50/kg for export of milk powder. The dairy industry is irked by the decision of the central government to allow import of 10,000 tonnes of milk powder at 15% tariff when the country has huge stocks of milk powder. Maharashtra alone has around 50,000 tonne of excess milk powder.
Large dairies have converted the excess milk they could not sell due to Covid induced demand destruction, into milk powder. Farmers’ organisations have demanded immediate halt on the milk powder imports. Farmers are demanding a Rs 535-crore package from the state government exclusively for milk producers, through which Rs 5 per litre will be credited to the farmers’ accounts for the next three months.