Dairy farmers in Ahmednagar, Sangli and Kolhapur poured milk on the streets to protest against low procurement prices by cooperative and private dairies. They demanded payment of at least ₹30 per litre for milk.
In Maharashtra, the prolonged lockdown, closure of restaurants, tea stalls, confectioneries has led to a massive reduction in the consumption of milk. The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) is leading the agitation in these agriculturally developed districts. On an average 1.25 crore litres of milk is produced every day in the State.
Ajit Navale, General Secretary of AIKS (Maharashtra), told BusinessLine that protests have started in three districts and it is expected to spread to more areas. On Tuesday morning, farmers will also protest at the milk collection centres. Currently, farmers are getting ₹16-17 per litre for cow milk and ₹27 for buffalo milk from the dairies but before the lockdown cow milk was fetching ₹30 per litre and buffalo milk ₹40, he said.
He said at the beginning of the lockdown, cooperative dairies who are mandated to procure the milk by their member farmers, bought it at lower rates. But then the State government in March intervened and provided a massive subsidy to the cooperative dairies so that the excess milk could be converted into milk powder,
The lockdown has opened up economic activities in the State but the dairies are still procuring milk at a cheaper rate, and converting it into milk powder. When the prices of the milk powder will shoot up, the dairies will make a killing on the market at the expense of the farmers. The dairies are enjoying low procurement costs as well as a State government subsidy. Therefore AIKS has launched this agitation, he said.
In the final week of March, the State Government had announced a ₹200 crore subsidy for the cooperative dairies.