A sharp decline in the prices of milk has left dairy farmers in the district a disappointed lot. During the past some years, the rates of milk had gone up considerably, but now they have reportedly fallen from Rs 3 to Rs 8 per litre making many dairy farmers suffer heavy losses.
"Earlier, I was selling my cow milk from Rs 30 to Rs 32 per litre, but now it has come down to Rs 24 per litre, making me suffer a daily loss of about Rs 16,000 on about 20 quintals of milk. We had to bring down input costs to manage the losses which have led to further decline in the yield of milk," claimed Jagdeep Singh, a dairy farmer from Surghuri village, who has about 435 animals.
He is one of the largest dairy farmers in the district and started his dairy business about four years ago.
"There is no profit for daily farmers if the cow milk is sold for less than Rs 30 per litre ad input costs have increased too much. I pay Rs 50,000 as power bill alone on the farm. The farmer can earn some profit only in the winter season when the milk yield increases, but the present decline in the rates has left us in losses," he said.
"I have been selling cow milk at about Rs 22 per litre which makes me suffer a loss of Rs 1,000 per day. Quality feed also costs us heavily. We cannot make any profit if we sell the milk for less than Rs 30 to 32 per litre as escalating input costs are crushing us. It is difficult for us to make up our daily labour expenses, leave side paying back bank loans," said Gurjeet Singh, a dairy farmer from Chambeli village.
"I had started a dairy farm with high hopes, but due to recurrent losses, it has badly disappointed me and now I want to get rid of it," says Gurjeet, who has about 35 animals. The farmers want the government intervention to stabilise milk rates to save the allied occupation.
"The fat rates from Rs 5.50 per unit two months ago have come down to Rs 4.60, which has led to the decline in the prices of milk from Rs 3 to Rs 8 per litre now at collection centers of major dairies. The rates had gone up considerably in the past three years attracting farmers towards this allied occupation, but now the situation is worse," says Sukhdeep Singh, who runs a milk collection centre in Surghuri village.
Not only dairy farmers, many small farmers and economically backward ones, who run their households by selling milk, have been greatly affected by the lower rates against the increased input costs. "We are offered Rs 20 per litre for cow milk by milkmen," said Parwinder Singh, a farmer from Kotkapura village.
Parmod Sharma, in-charge for the procurement of milk for Milkfed in Faridkot district, admitted that rates have come down substantially. "Our rates in the cluster of three districts are supposed to be at par with a private dairy based in Moga (Nestle). We are concerned about the problem and have written to the higher authorities to increase the rates. However, there would be no further fall in milk prices and they are expected to rise," he added.
Rajkumar, general manager, Milkfed, at Faridkot, after learning the problem faced by the dairy farmers, asked the HT to call him back again.