Dairy farmers hold protest, reject govt’s ₹20 per kg milk fat hike
Chandigarh: Punjab dairy farmers on Saturday held a protest in front of the Verka milk plant in Mohali, seeking hike in milk procurement prices.
Though the AAP government on Saturday announced to increase the procurement price to ₹20 per kg milk fat, the protesting farmers rejected it as inadequate, saying they want a hike of at least ₹100 per kg.
Under the banner of Progressive Dairy Farmers’ Association (PDFA), farmers from several parts of the state gathered outside the Verka milk plant in Mohali.
They blocked one side of the main road leading to Chandigarh in support of their demands, putting commuters to inconvenience. The protesters also blocked the entry gates of the Verka milk plant.
However, the farmers ended their protest after assurance from the government late in the night. Daljit Singh Sadarpura, president of the Progressive Dairy Farmers Association (PDFA) said: “We have lifted the dharna outside Verka milk plant as the government officials have given assurance and have called us for a meeting on Monday.”
earlier in the day, Sadarpura said the milk prices have not been increased in the past two years while their input prices, including feed prices, have almost doubled.
“The price of soybean has increased from ₹3,200 per quintal a year ago to ₹7,200 per quintal. Similarly, the prices of other items have also gone up which hit the dairy sector hard,” said Sadarpura.
He said several dairy farmers who have been suffering because of inadequate returns have started selling their cattle. The Covid-19 pandemic also hit the dairy sector hard, he said.
He said the state government should raise the procurement price by at least ₹100 per kg milk fat.
“Cost of running machinery, including tractors, has also gone up because of the hike in diesel prices. Farmers were forced to stop paying their loan installments to banks due to mounting losses,” the PDFA president said, adding that they will continue to protest till the government increases the milk rates.
At present, Punjab State Cooperative Milk Producers Federation Limited (Milkfed) is giving ₹730 per kg fat to dairy farmers, said Sadarpura.
Since March this year, Milkfed has already raised prices by ₹50 per kg fat.
Punjab cooperation minister Harpal Singh Cheema assured farmers that in future also, more concrete steps would be taken for the benefit of milk producers, according to an official statement.
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