Amul supports Centre’s stance on Indo-Russian dairy protocol

Tomojit Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 23, 2018

Only Parag Milk Foods and Schreiber Dynamix Dairies have received thenod from Russia’s federal inspection agency, for export of hard cheese   -  BL

Says Russia’s conditions are directed only at India, against WTO norms

The Commerce Ministry’s attempt to get Russia to water down its requirement that stipulates sourcing of milk products only from dairy players who own ranches with thousand-plus milch cattle, has found a supporter in Amul.

This is indicative of a split in opinion within the domestic dairy industry. Amul estimates that only one or two farms in India met the condition, with most procuring milk from farmers who had 2-5 milch animals.

“The farm costing and land availability issue will practically make it impossible to establish new farms with more than 1,000 cows in India, as having higher number of cows is economically not viable,” said RS Sodhi, Managing Director of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), which owns Amul.

Discriminative ?

“Even globally, there are few farms with more than 1,000 cows. For example, USA has 1,730, New Zealand has 600, and UK has only 17 such farms,” Sodhi said, adding that Russia had not imposed the condition on any other country.

The Ministry had not signed the dairy protocol with Russia as it felt only a few dairies would meet the ‘captive farms’ stipulation. “Once you have signed a protocol, you can’t revise it unilaterally. If we sign the protocol in the current form and later ask for a change, they may not oblige,” a senior ministry official had said.

So far, only two private dairies – Parag Milk Foods and Schreiber Dynamix Dairies – have received the nod of Rosselkhoznadzor, Russia’s federal inspection agency, for export of hard cheese.

The companies have urged the Centre to continue negotiations with Russia but allow them to begin exports, since tie-ups had already been established with importers. This view was repeated at a July 23 meeting between industry players and the Commerce Ministry. The window to establish a presence in the market is also limited, with the ban on dairy imports from the European Union lasting only a year.

‘Against WTO norms’

Sodhi said the demand was against World Trade Organisation (WTO) guidelines and the condition amounted to “a non-tariff barrier to restrict trade in favour of only a couple of parties”.

“For paltry exports of dairy products, India should not surrender to a special condition being implemented by Russia which is being enforced exclusively on India. We have suggested that the Ministry should…reinvite the Russian team to visit India so that they can again inspect the facilities/EIA system in a newer perspective,” he added.

Reports from Russia indicate that it may soften the stand, which stemmed from hygiene and sanitation concerns to minimise the risk of foot-and-mouth disease, tuberculosis, brucellosis, etc.

The Russian cheese market is estimated at more than 2,00,000 tonnes. As of June, international prices ranged between $3,000-$3,600 per tonne, depending on type and quality.

The average price of cheddar, among the varieties likely to be sold by Indian manufacturers, was $2,613 a tonne as of July 15, having slid about 14 per cent from $3,060 per tonne at the beginning of the month.

Published on August 02, 2015

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