For bridging the gap between demand and production, the state governments flagship dairy Milma (Kerala Milk Marketing Co-operative) has knocked NDDB (National Dairy Development Board) doors for imported milk powder.
Last year, Milma had picked up 600 tonne of milk powder and 20,000 litre of milk from Maharashtra dairies. Apart from the un-viability of transporting a perishable product like milk through the distance of Maharastra to Kerala, this year, the State also got cold-shouldered by the dairies in the neighboring states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
There is also an immediate issue of milk farmers demanding higher price from Milma. Because of forthcoming assembly elections, the state is reluctant to announce a price hike.
We had been revving up supply, but the demand growth is outstripping the supply, says C Divakaran, food minister of Kerala said. Compared to 67 lakh litre per day milk production in 2010, Kerala produces 75 lakh litre per day in February 2011.
Milma alone produces 21.3 lakh litres per day, compared to 20.8 lakh litres in the previous year. But the demand has soared, resulting in about 12% daily shortage in milk supplies.
Kerala, adjudged a long-time laggard in per capita milk availability (scoring 172 gm per day), however is mending her dairy ways. The State has started work on setting up a trio of Rs 32-crore hi-tech dairy farms to add to its 22 major dairies ( 12 co-operative and rest in private sector). To buoy the 7.77 lakh milk farmers, Milma milk prices have been revised to the tune of an average Rs 23 per litre.
Last year, State Livestock Board had even imported French bovine breeds that yield 60 litre of milk per day.
The basic issue is the demand growth, says KT Sarojini, director, Dairy Development, Kerala. At present, the state needs atleast 80 lakh litre per day. To economise on milk, Milma has restricted production of its milk value-added product like ghee. The other 10 private dairies too have been unable to meet the demand.
Milk demand, according to dairy experts, is steadily growing in all parts of the country. In West Bengal alone, milk demand is up by 30%, says TN Jayan, chairman, Milma, Ernakulam Region.
According to a study in 2005, Andhra Pradesh (269 gm per day) tops in per capita milk availability among southern states. Punjab (961 gm per day) is the countrys topper in this score.
Meanwhile, the milk-short dairy co-operative is proud of foraying the countrys first milk ATM, through its pilot project in Kochi. This was set up in March 2010, even before similar initiatives in Delhi.