Agri Business

Covid-19: As milk prices fall in Maharashtra, dairy farmers feel the squeeze

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on May 28, 2020

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Dairy farmers in Maharashtra have started to feel the pinch of the lockdown with procurement prices of milk dipping by 20 to 50 per cent. Decline in their income also means lower amount of feed being given to cattle.

Due to lack of demand, farmers who used to make processed milk products such as curd, butter, ghee and khoya as a cottage industry, now sell milk at lower rates in the market. Khoya is an intermediary milk product, which is used as a raw material for making traditional sweets.

Farmer leader and General Secretary (Maharashtra) of All India Kisan Sabha, Ajit Navale, said that due to the lockdown, milk demand from restaurants, tea stalls and sweet shops has come to a standstill. The State Government has assured that 11 lakh litres of excess milk will be procured per day from farmers by the cooperative dairies for which funds would be provided by the State Government. However, it has not translated into additional income for the farmers.

Navale said that before the lockdown, cow milk was sold by farmers at ₹30 to ₹35; today, it has dipped to ₹20 to ₹22. In some places, it has even dipped to ₹12 per litre. This milk is being procured by private dairies. On the other hand, due to logistics issues, animal feed supplies have become irregular, leading to a considerable jump in prices.

Dairy farmer Shankar Dandge from Matola village near Nandura town in Buldhana district sells milk to local customers and dairies, as the famous Nandura khoya market has been closed down because of the pandemic. Before lockdown, the rate around Nandura was ₹35 per litre for cow milk; today, he is forced to sell milk at ₹25 per litre.

Dandge said that daily milk production from his cows is 100 litres. The ₹10 dip in prices has translated in per day losses of ₹1,000 for him. And since income has declined, the animals too are getting lesser feed.

Farmer Arpan Sontakke from village Takarkheda More, Anjangaon Surji taluk in Amravati district, is also in the same boat. Milk was being procured around Anjangaon Surji at ₹38 per litre; this has now slid to ₹27 per litre. Due to the losses, he has already sold one cow to another farmer.

Sontakke laments that he just cannot afford to feed the same quantity of fodder and cattle cake to his cows. Earlier, he used to feed a three-kg cattle feed cake, which has now been slashed to 1.5 kg because of lower earnings from the sale of milk.

Published on May 28, 2020

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