Maharashtra farmers threaten to block milk supplies

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Pune | Published: July 4, 2018 2:16:41 AM

Milk supply in Maharashtra is likely to be hit from July 16 with farmer organisation Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) threatening to stop milk collection.

milk, milk productionLast year, the state had reportedly promised milk farmers a subsidy of Rs7 per litre.

Milk supply in Maharashtra is likely to be hit from July 16 with farmer organisation Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) threatening to stop milk collection, and block supplies to consumers across the state. The farmer organisation has demanded that the state govt should give a subsidy of Rs 5 per litre which should directly be credited into the bank accounts of the dairy farmers.
Raju Shetti, SSS president , said that the state government should keep its promise made to the dairy sector six months ago.

Last year, the state had reportedly promised milk farmers a subsidy of Rs7 per litre. At present, dairy farmers are paid somewhere between Rs 17 and Rs 20 per litre of milk.

“Milk prices have gone down considerably after milk-powder prices were decreased. And it is affecting farmers very badly. The prices that the farmers get are less than that of packaged drinking water,” he said in Pune on Tuesday.

“While a bottle of water costs Rs 20, a farmer is paid merely Rs 17 or Rs 18 per litre. We are going to block all the major milk supply routes across the state make the government pay attention to our demands. The production cost of the milk is `35 per litre and farmers are not able to meet even 50% of the cost of production,” he added. Shetti said the protesters will be blocking three major roads leading to the city – the Mumbai-Nashik Highway, the Mumbai-Pune Highway, and the Mumbai-Surat Highway – and stalling milk tankers for the ‘dudh bandh’ andolan.

Milk tankers from Gujarat and Karnataka will not be allowed to enter the state, he stated. Gujarat supplies around 10-15 lakh litres of milk to Maharashtra and nearly 5 lakh litres comes from Karnataka.

“Around 3 crore litres of milk is collected across the state on a daily basis and this shall be stopped unless the state pays heed to our demand,” Shetti said. Mumbai’s requirement is around 70 lakh litres a day. All dairies in the state, whether cooperative or private, will not be allowed to collect milk from farmers, Shetti stated, adding that the milk instead would be distributed free of cost to children and the poor.

Shetti recalled that the SSS had held a similar agitation 11 years ago and the government was forced to raise milk prices after milk shortage hit the state’s populace by the fourth day. He suggested a direct subsidy citing the example of Karnataka where the government has been running such a scheme for the past few years.

Advisory body recommends `50 subsidy on skimmed milk powder and whole milk powder

The advisory committee, appointed by the Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, to look into issues related to commodities has recommended a subsidy of `50 per kg on skimmed milk powder and whole milk powder on the same lines as the Gujarat government. Pasha Patel, chairman, State Commissioner for Agriculture and Prices,who heads the committee on milk that falls under Commission said that the committee, has recommended reduction in GST from 12% to 5% on butter and ghee.

Patel, who was in Pune for a review meeting with heads of 10 milk dairies in the state, said a 100% import duty should be imposed on lactose and whey powder. At present, these products are brought into the country for medical use and are instead used commercially for making ghee and butter. Patel said around 21 committees are to be established for commodities to identify pain areas and five have already been announced of which the Committee for Milk and Dairy Products will submit its report to the CM on Wednesday.

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