In a yet another blow to farmers already reeling under drought, steep rise in prices of cattle feed has significantly lowered profits from milk production.
Farmers across the State reported that drought had severely affected cattle rearing, an important allied activity that kept the community floating in times of farming stress. The primary reason was the steep rise in prices of feed that touched “unprecedented” levels.
Farmers told Express that in a span of 12 months, price of cattle fodder increased by 30 to 40 per cent. “In the same time last year, a 50 kg bag cost us about Rs 600. Today, it has crossed Rs 1,000, severely stressing our finances,” said Vydeeshwaran, who rears seven cows in Iyankoilpattu, Villupuram.
Shivaji, secretary of Tamil Nadu Milk Producers’ Association in Vellore, said for a cow that provides 10 litres of milk a day, as much as 4 kg feed is recommended, apart from the regular hay and oil cake.
Farmers also found it extremely difficult to get supply of hay. “The cost is about Rs 2,000 for a small vehicle of hay,” claimed Sundaramurthy, of Tiruvarur district. Oil cake touched Rs 50 per kg in certain markets, steadily rising from `35 in the preceding years. On an average, the total cost of production of a litre of milk in the current scenario is estimated at Rs 26 to Rs 28.
Farmers said both quantity and quality have taken a beating. “Today, I provide just a kilogram of feed to my cows because I just cannot afford it given the situation with the Samba,” a farmer said. One reason, cattle owners alleged, was the scarcity of feed produced by the state milk cooperative, Aavin.
These farmers are now pinning their hopes on the relief package announced by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, which had a component to boost fodder production. They urged the government to look at a higher procurement price of `25 per litre of milk.