The Maharashtra government on Friday announced a minimum procurement price of Rs 34 per litre for cow milk. This is the lowest rate which dairy firms must pay to farmers to buy milk. The earlier rate was approximately Rs 32.
The state plans to revise rates every three months. Consumers fear this could raise milk prices periodically. However, Jayen Mehta, managing director of Amul, India’s largest dairy, informed TOI Friday, “No. There is no plan to increase Amul milk prices in Mumbai or any other market.” Other national and state dairies deferred comment.
State minister for dairy development and animal husbandry Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said the move was aimed at ensuring farmers’ welfare. He also urged fodder manufacturers to reduce prices. Vikhe Patil recently met with milk farmers and fodder manufacturers, where cooperative and private unions discussed spiralling operational and production costs. The government then formed a committee to determine a revised minimum procurement price, and followed its recommendations.
The committee has been asked to monitor milk prices in national and international markets and recommend a procurement rate at an interval of three months. In exceptional circumstances, the committee can suggest price revision sooner. Local dairy commissioners and district dairy development officers have been instructed to report monthly implementation.
Increasing cost of fodder and other overheads had prompted milk farmers to appeal for Rs 40 per litre. But leading private and cooperative dairies say they already pay fairly, given fierce competition among buyers.
Consumers fear that the new mandate may prompt milk producers to increase the rate of milk in retail markets. Weighed down by unprecedented food costs and overall inflation, salaried households are struggling to cope.
Shirish Patil, a retired government servant said, “Already families are paying Rs 60-70 for a litre of cow milk and Rs 95-100 for buffalo milk. The price of dal has risen by Rs 20-30 per kg over the past month. Tomatoes are off the menu. It would help if some state or Central government would form a committee to solve the problems of middle class citizens too.”