Feverish dairy sector lets 1.2 cr litre milk go down the drain daily

Closure of hotels and bakeries due to the lockdown biggest reason; pvt milk companies slash procurement prices citing mounting losses, infrastructure hurdles
For representational purposes. (Photo| AFP)
For representational purposes. (Photo| AFP)

CHENNAI: Major impact due to the closure of hotels, tea shops and bakeries in wake of the nationwide lockdown has been borne by over 10 lakh dairy farmers in the State. With the lockdown now entering the seventh day, private milk companies has reduced procurement price citing lack of demand.According to sources, of the total 2.1 crore litre of milk produced, about 1.2 crore litre is being stagnated every day. This includes 45 lakh litre earmarked for hotels and tea shops, and another 65 lakh litre sent for producing products such as ghee, milk powder, butter, and sweets among others. In addition, the consumption of milk purchased through retail outlets has also fallen by 30 per cent.

Prices slashed

Before March 23, private milk companies paid Rs 32 to Rs 34 a litre to farmers, besides offering them monthly incentives. While all private companies reduced the procurement price to Rs 26-28 a litre, Tirumala Milk Products Company has slashed the per litre price to `10 from the existing price of `20.MG Rajendran, General Secretary of Tamil Nadu Milk Producers’ Welfare Association (TNMPWS) said, “Every small farmer who supplies milk to private companies has suffered a loss of anywhere between `100 to 200 a day. However, the expenditure towards maintenance has remained the same.”

Private companies have justified the decision citing limited infrastructure for converting such a huge volume of milk into other products. “During the lockdown, most companies faced difficulties sending milk to dairies to convert it into milk powder. This was mainly because of transportation issues, and closure of State borders,” said a private milk company.Sources also pointed out that procuring packing materials within a short period of time was a herculean task.

Govt intervention sought

A few days ago private milk companies submitted representation to government to purchase milk from them. Noting that the companies were facing the loss of several crores, they said if there was no intervention from government, procurement of milk from the farmers may be stopped.“Purchasing milk from private companies is a policy decision of the government. As of now, no decision has been taken. Aavin’s per day procurement has reached 30 lakh litre, and there is no additional demand for milk in the State,” said an official from Aavin.Meanwhile, Rajendran (TNMPWS) said the government should purchase milk only through the National Cooperative Dairy Federation to ensure transparency in price fixing.

Farmer dumps milk
A milk producer at Triplicane poured nearly 300 litres of milk on the ground demanding government intervention to protect cattle farmers.
A Raji (50) of Triplicane said, “The corporation seized my cattle, and I had to pay `11,000 penalty. There has been no business as well for the past few days due to the lockdown. I want the government to step in.”

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