Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Thursday said the Centre was not considering any hike in prices of milk.
“We have no proposal before us on milk prices. This is all media creation,” Pawar said on the sidelines of a rural development conference here.
The government is understood to be reviewing availability and output of milk, shortage of which has fuelled fears of hardening prices.
Spectre of a price rise became evident after states reported a shortage of 1.8 million tonnes in demand and supply on Wednesday.
“I am studying the situation. A clearer picture of availability would be possible after two to three days,” Vijay Vyas, professor emeritus at the Institute for Development Studies and on the board of directors of the National Dairy Development Board, told HT.
News of milk shortage has come at a time when annual food prices climbed down in early January for three straight weeks, government data showed on Thursday.
The food price index rose 16.81 per cent in the year to January 9, down from 17.28 per cent in the previous week.
Milk production in India, the world’s largest producer at 108 million tonnes in 2009, has been growing at an average of 4 per cent. Supply-demand forecasts for 2010 had hinted normal availability. The surprise shortage may have to do with some northern states not meeting production targets.
Dairies in some northern states are pushing for higher milk prices due to scarcity. If India fails to ride out the current shortage, imports could be the only way out.
“If supply remains deficit, then we may have to import,” Amrita Patel, chairperson of the National Dairy Development Board, said.