Strange but true. Milk production in drought-affected regions of the state have increased so much that there are no buyers for a daily surplus of 28 lakh litres. Distressed yet enterprising farmers have made this possible against odds such as inadequate fodder and water.
Vinayakrao D Patil, chairman of National Cooperative Dairy Federation of India and head of state action committee of milk producers, explained to HT why milk production had increased manifold in western Maharashtra and Marathwada. He said the state gets a surplus stock of 28 lakh litres – half the daily requirement of Mumbai – because farmers have focused more on supplementary business when their farms are rendered useless.
“When farmers don’t go to their farms because there is nothing to do there, they buy fodder from special government depots and use tanker water to feed their cattle. So, they expect to earn money in bad times,” Patil said.
But with a stockpile of milk powder of 24,000 metric tonnes lying unused in warehouses, dairies are not buying surplus milk. Also, the current international rate of Rs 135 a kilo of milk powder has added to the farmers’ woes. The state collects 113 lakh litres of milk every day of which 75 lakh litres are sold and the rest is processed into byproducts.
The action committee of milk producers approached chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who assured that exports of milk powder would be facilitated so that the produce could be bought and then utilised further.