Pune: Dairy farmers from all across the State had declared a ‘Why loot, take it for free’ protest from May 3 as part of which they gave away all their milk produce for free, demanding a rate of Rs 27 per litre as declared by the government last June. Taking cognisance, the government, on Tuesday, announced that it will give a 3% subsidy for milk powder producers for a month. The protesting farmers, however, say that this is not enough.
Dairy, one of the most prominent supplementary businesses to agriculture, is facing a crisis as the major income earner for milk processing industry, milk powder, is seeing a crisis. “Gulf nations and China are the major international buyers of milk powder. This year though, milk powder from New Zealand came into the market at a lower cost and was purchased readily by China,” said Vishnu Hinge, Chairman of Katraj Dudh Utpadak Sangh, adding, “Almost 2 to 3 lakh tonnes of milk powder is lying unpurchased in the country, causing the collapse in price.”
Milk powder accounts for almost 60 pc of the milk processing industry output. Industry representatives say they have to find a mean between the losses in producing milk powder by cutting prices given to farmers per litre of milk. Dairy farmers say the dairy industry earns almost 850% profit per litre of milk through other products and it is unfair for the farmer to bear a loss of Rs 10 per litre.
“We welcome the step taken today by the government. Our protest has borne some fruit at least. But that does not mean our issues are solved. It just means the government has started listening,” said Ajit Nawale, leader of the All India Kisan Sabha which has also participated in the protests. He added, “We will wait three more days and hold a meeting of all dairy farmers organisations to discuss our further strategy.”
“We want a comprehensive solution to the issues. This small subsidy is just a minor relief. But this will help neither the farmer get the price nor the consumer see lower price of milk products,” said Nawale, adding, “We had announced protest by distributing free milk in front of Mantralaya. If the government is not ready to look at the holistic solution, we will surely carry out those protests.”