Weeks after government’s promise, Maharashtra’s dairy farmers are still getting raw deal over milk prices

Farmers have also alleged that dairies have been deducting heavily for lower-quality milk, but have not been compensating adequately for higher-quality milk

mumbai Updated: Aug 12, 2018 00:20 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Milk prices,Milk protest,Maharashtra milk
A dairy farmer at Sukhsagar Nagar Katraj in Pune.(HT Photo)

It has been several weeks since the Maharashtra government assured its agitating dairy farmers of a minimum milk procurement price of ₹25 per litre. But farmers say they have been getting less than the promised rate because private and cooperative dairies, owing to government oversight, are fleecing them at ₹19 to ₹21 per litre.

After dairy farmers protested by blocking milk supply to Maharashtra’s cities last month, the state government assured a minimum procurement price of ₹25 per litre with milk containing fat and solids-not-fat (SNF) in the ratio of 3.5:8.5. (SNF refers to solids other than fat. The specified ratio is required to retain the quality of milk). The government through a July 19 resolution announced a subsidy of ₹5 per litre to dairy companies on their milk products if they procured milk from the farmers at ₹25 a litre. This procurement price was also made mandatory.

“Despite clear government orders, dairies are not following the norms even for the specified standard. The government also specified that for every point difference [over fat/SNF ratio], farmers should get 30 paise less but they’ve been getting much lesser ... even less than ₹20 per litre,” said Gulabrao Dere of Dudh Utpadak Kalyan Sanghatana, a body representing farmers.

Farmers have also alleged that dairies have been deducting heavily for lower-quality milk, but have not been compensating adequately for higher-quality milk.

Rajeev Jadhav, dairy development commissioner said, “It is true that some of the private and cooperative dairies have been not following the rate we have set in the government resolution (GR). The GR did not have rates specified in case of better quality milk and that is the reason for the dispute. We are issuing a corrigendum on Monday after a meeting with the stakeholders. Fall in rates for low-quality milk is intended to maintain a better quality of milk.”

Dairy sector experts have alleged that the private and cooperative brands are cheating the farmers in connivance with government officials. “The government has neither the will to take action against violations nor has the mechanism to keep a tab on them. After milk powder prices were subsidised by the government, its rate in the international market has fallen further and impacted procurement prices,” said Anand Gorad, a dairy farming expert.

First Published: Aug 12, 2018 00:20 IST