KARWAR: The dairy sector which provides livelihood to lakhs of dairy farmers in the State is reeling under a severe loss due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The milk unions have reduced their payment to the farmers by about Rs 4-6 per litre. Despite surplus production, the marketing of milk and byproducts has hit badly, according to the milk unions.
The closure of hotels, restaurants, schools and colleges and cafeterias in software firms and postponement of marriages has hit the Karnataka Milk Federation hard, which is now hoping that Covid-19 ends soon.
“Earlier the hotel, restaurant and cafeteria segment consumed up to 4 lakh litres. They would buy our jumbo packets (6 litre packet of milk and 25 litres curd).
The cafeterias of the software companies consumed over one lakh litres of milk. All this has stopped ever since the pandemic outbreak.” B C Satish, Managing Director, Karnataka Milk, told TNIE.
Nelligere Balu, Director, Mandya Milk Union, said that all the milk unions in the State have reduced the payment to the farmers based on the availability of cash.
Accordingly, Bengaluru Milk Union Limited (BAMUL) and Mangalore Milk Union are paying Rs 26 per litre of milk – a reduction of Rs 4 per litre.
“Our Mandya Milk Union used to pay Rs 30 per litre,then it reduced it by Rs 2.76. It has again reduced it to Rs 24,” said Balu.
“This is all due to the Covid-19 situation where the demand for milk has reduced sharply. We are in a severe crisis and wondering how to pay the farmers from next month,” Balu said.
However, the milk producers of North Karnataka are still in the safe zone.
“We are producing about 3 lakh litres of milk, of which 2.9 lakh litres is our consumption, the remaining is converted into powder. We have always been paying Rs 23.50 per litre. Only those who paid Rs 30 have now reduced the payment,”said Guru Siddanagouda, former president, Raichur, Ballari, Koppal Milk Union Limited.
When contacted, B C Satish, Managing Director, KMF, only said the milk producers are being paid by taking a working capital of Rs 750 crore as announced by the Prime Minister.