Pune: Dairy farmers from across the State, who have been demanding that the declared price of Rs 27 per litre of milk be given to them for a while now, have decided to give away their milk for free as a protest to the loss of almost Rs 9 per litre faced by them.
The farmers held a press conference to declare these protests in Ahmednagar on Thursday under the banner of the
Maharashtra Rajya Dudh Utpadak Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti.
In June last year, the State government had agreed over a price of Rs 27 for one litre of milk with 3.5 fat and 8.5 SNF (solid non-fats). But farmers across the State have complained that their milk fetches them only around Rs 18 per litre. This means that each dairy farmer suffers a loss of almost Rs 9 per litre of milk. The issue was taken up in almost every agrarian protest since last year including the historic Kisan Long March last month but to no avail.
“We are tired of repeatedly asking the government who seems to have turned a deaf ear to our demands. We have decided that if by May 3, the government does not resolve the issue, we will distribute our produce for free rather than let this loot continue,” said Dhananjay Dhorde, himself a dairy farmer and one of the initiators in these protests.
At the centre of these protests is the Lakhganga village in Ahmednagar which has officially passed a resolution in their gram panchayat, asking the government to procure milk from their village for free. “We will not take a single rupee in bills for our milk from May 3 to May 9. We will not only give our milk free to the dairies but also distribute it in glasses at the government offices,” said Dhorde.
‘Our hands tied, government failure’
Representatives of the dairy sector, however, said that their hands are tied in this issue as they cannot afford to give that rate to dairy farmers in the current situation. “The major milk products post collection are processed products like milk powder and butter. The packet milk and Indian sweets like shrikhand etc., constitute only 40 per cent of the total products,” said Vishnu Hinge, Chairman of the Katraj Milk Dairy.
“The international markets are not favourable for export of milk powder currently. We try to balance the losses of almost Rs 7 per kg of milk powder with the Rs 3 profit that we make per litre of packet milk,’ Hinge said.
He further added, “In these conditions, the fair purchase price of milk comes down to Rs 17 to Rs 18 per litre. Such situations keep happening and it is the government’s job to intervene and provide relief to the sector.”