Kerala dairy farmers pour 80,000 litres of milk on ground after Milma fails to collect it amid lockdown
The Malabar Regional Co-operative Milk Producers Union of Milma did not procure the milk as the federation was unable to sell all of it since hotels and restaurants were closed during the lockdown
PALAKKAD: Dairy farmers of Kunnamkattupathy in Chittur on Wednesday protested against the failure of Milma to procure milk from them by pouring the day's yield on the ground.
"Today, the workers in my farm had to pour the milk on the ground as Milma did not procure it. We enquired with some orphanages to find out whether they were willing to take the milk, but the nearby farmers had already supplied milk to those institutions," said Lalitha Ramakrishnan, a dairy farmer who runs a farm in Muthalamada.
"Pouring milk on the ground was a heart-rending sight. I have around 140 cows of which 60 are milch cows. I milk around 330 litres in the morning and 250 litres in the evening. I immediately sent a person to Kunnamkulam to purchase a cream separator machine after getting permission from the local police station. At least the cream could be utilised," she added.
Lalitha who received the state award for the best milch farmer three years ago said she has also not been getting rice bran to feed the cows as Tamil Nadu suppliers are unwilling to transport it due to the lockdown.
The Malabar Regional Co-operative Milk Producers Union (MRCMPU) of Milma did not procure the milk as the federation was unable to sell all of it because of the closure of hotels and restaurants as part of the lockdown.
"Talks are being held between Kerala and Tamil Nadu at both the chief ministerial and ministerial levels. The Tamil Nadu Co-operative Milk Producers' Federation (Aavin) has got two milk powdering factories and if they agree to powder at least some quantity from here, the MRCMPU will be relieved of its burden to an extent. The societies under the Ernakulam Regional Union have decided to procure the daily average quantity of milk procured in the last 21 days. Hence, there will not be a problem for small and marginal dairy farmers there and the Thiruvananthapuram Regional Union is running a deficit. Therefore, if Tamil Nadu agrees to powder three loads of milk everyday from the Malabar Regional Union, the situation will be normal," said Milma chairman P A Balan.
The Malabar union procures around six lakh litres of milk per day. The highest contributor is the agrarian district of Palakkad with 2.10 lakh litres. In the wake of the COVID-19 fallout, it could market only three lakh litres per day.
There is no milk powdering factory in Kerala as of now, as the only one started in Alappuzha's Punnapra 15 years ago was closed down. At that time, Kerala had no surplus milk to make it into powder, said Milma director K S Mani.
He said the stock of milk at MRCMPU as of Wednesday was 10.5 lakh litres. "Milma has a unit to produce 'Milma Long Life' brand at Sreekantapuram in Kannur, but the processing for the same is different and takes five days. Once it begins production, we can use around 30,000 litres of excess milk daily to produce 'Milma Long Life' which has a shelf life of three months," he said.
Mani said Milma will be procuring the full quantity of milk brought by the farmers to the societies in the morning on Thursday and Friday, but milk would not be procured in the evening. It will take care of 50 to 70 per cent of the daily yield.