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DAIRY PRODUCTS

Maha dairy farmers protest by pouring milk on streets as prices fell 40%
Friday, 31 July, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Vijetha Iyer, Mumbai
Dairy farmers in Ahmednagar, Sangli and Kolhapur held a series of protests in Maharashtra wherein, they poured milk on the streets to protest against the low procurement prices by cooperative and private dairies. They demanded a payment of at least Rs 30 per litre for milk as the prices fell 40% in the state after the Covid-19 outbreak.

The series of protests was led by Raju Shetti, chairperson of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna (SSS) and All India Kisan Sabha (Maharashtra).
While talking to FnB News, Shetti said, “In Maharashtra, due to the prolonged lockdown, there was a closure of restaurants, tea stalls, events, catering services, ice cream factories and confectioneries, which has led to a massive reduction in the consumption of milk. On an average, 1.25 crore litre of milk is produced every day in the state. In India, there is 2 lakh tonne of milk, which is left unused, while in Maharashtra, there is 50,000 tonne of milk, which is left unused. This much amount of milk is quite sufficient to survive for a year.”

He also condemned the Centre’s decision to import milk powder, despite thousands of tonnes of the commodity lying unsold in Maharashtra and other parts of the country. The Union Ministry of Finance exempted imports of milk and cream under the Tariff Rate Quota in a notification dated June 23, 2020.

Focussing on the losses faced by farmers, he added, “Although, the lockdown has opened up economic activities in the state but the dairies are still procuring milk at a cheaper rate. The excess amount of milk is being converted into skimmed milk powder by the cooperative dairies. Currently, farmers are getting Rs 16-17 per litre for cow milk and Rs 27 per litre for buffalo milk from the dairies but before the lockdown cow milk was fetching Rs 30 per litre and buffalo milk Rs 40 per litre.”

On recovery of the losses, he said, “The GST rates on milk and milk products should be removed by the government as we all know about the losses faced by the nation on various sectors. So, to make milk and milk products affordable to the masses, removal of GST rates would be a great move as we can recover from the huge losses and it will be an immediate relief to the dairy farmers. We are awaiting the decision of the government in this matter.”

Meanwhile, State Dairy Development Minister Sunil Kedar assured that the Maharashtra government will come up with a scheme to alleviate the financial plight of dairy farmers by first week of August.
 
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