CHANDIGARH: The dairy farmers in Punjab are facing a triple blow amid the coronavirus lockdown as the cost of production has shot up while the sale of milk is down by 60 per cent as 40 lakh litres of milk is not being bought for sale every day.
As a final blow to them, the procurement rates too have fallen down.
Talking to New Indian Express, President of Progressive Dairy Farmers Association Daljit Singh, said, "There are around 7,000 commercial dairy farms run by progressive dairy farmers across the state with each farm having animals ranging between 20 and 500. While there are lakhs of farmers who have five to ten animals with them and they sell milk. The commercial dairy farming contributes 25 per cent to the total milk produced in the state. The average daily milk production in the state is around 320 lakh litres. Daily around 1 crore litres of milk is sold in the state of this 60 to 65 lakh litres is sold in the organised sector, comprising dairy cooperatives such as government-owned Milkfed (Verka) and other private dairy companies. While the rest goes to unorganised sectors such as milk vendors and sweet shops".
"Due to the lockdown, around 40 lakh litres of milk daily is not been sold. Not only that, the milk vendors which use to buy milk from farmers at Rs 45 to Rs 50 per litre are now buying it for around Rs 30 per litre (at 35 per cent less rate) and they are also not consistent," he added.
In the organised sector, the dairy cooperatives are now buying the milk from dairy farmers at less rate due to a reduction in procurement rate by Rs 3 per litre of cow milk and Rs 4.50 per litre of buffalo milk. It started with state government-owned Milkfed, she continued.
While the cost of feed (corn, soya bean and cottonseed) had gone up by Rs 300 to Rs 350 per quintal as it comes from other states. Prior to the lockdown a bag (50 kg) of feed was between Rs 1200 to Rs 1500. Ergo, it is a major blow to the dairy farmers.
Managing Director of Milkfed (state government-owned cooperative) KS Sangha said,"around 320 lakh litre of milk is presently produced per day in the state of this 140 lakh litres of milk is sold in the market and rest in households. Of this 27 lakh litres is bought by the Milkfed and 64 lakh litres by other milk
plants in the organised sector".
"One crore litre of milk is bought daily in the state by all players in both organised and unorganised sector but due to present situation, there is distress sale of about 40 lakh litres as farmers are not getting their rates. Our sale is also down by 4 lakh litres (of all products). But to facilitate the dairy farmers for the first time in the history we are now handling 26.50 lakh litres of milk daily in this season which is otherwise a lean season as milk production in summers is less. As compared to this year, during same period last year 27 per cent less milk production. We are now making more milk powder, tetra pack cartons (which have six months shelf life), Panner (highest sale), white butter and skimmed milk power. We have increased our production as we have now hired four private plants besides our own plants, thus six lakh litres of milk conversation in these private plants and 9 lakh litres of milk in our plants (total 15 lakh litres milk conversion) and 11 lakh litres milk sold daily. While some milk also goes to Delhi,’’ he says.
Sangha admits that the cooperative has reduced the procurement rates but he justifies the decision saying that the farmers have to be paid back within ten days and now sales are less besides increased production. He further says private plants have reduced the procurement rates much more than them.