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Monday, July 4, 2022

Dairy farmers seeks a price hike in milk- Mrit News

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Many in the sector are giving up due to adverse conditions

P.K. Anoop Kumar, an expatriate at Panamaram in Wayanad, entered into dairy farming around two years ago after he lost his job in Oman when COVID -19 broke out.

He turned to the venture after procuring two Holstein Friesian (HF) cows from Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu, at a cost of ₹70,000 each, with the assistance of a middleman.

The latter ensured him that he would get at least 25 litres of milk from each bovine. Mr. Anoop realised that he had been cheated when he got only nearly 15 to 18 litres of milk from each.

“Now I have understood that dairy farming is not a lucrative business, as the input cost is high and return is relatively low,” says Mr. Anoop. When one of the cows was affected by mastitis diseases, a potentially fatal mammary gland infection, he lost all his hopes.

Now, the young farmer is trying to return to Oman after selling the animals and other infrastructures at a throwaway price.

“Many young entrepreneurs have also ventured into the sector in the wake of the sharp decline in price of cash crops, especially pepper, arecanut, and ginger, a decade ago, and their condition is not different,” he said.

“While the State government is trying to achieve self-sufficiency in milk production, increasing price of cattle feed, a spurt in diseases affecting the animals, and low farm gate price of milk, have cast a cloud over thousands of dairy farmers in the State, says Venu Cheriyath, State president, Malabar Dairy farmers Association.

Mr. Venu says the farmers are facing an incomparable crisis owing to the low price of the produce and higher input for the production.

The farmers were getting an average of ₹35 a litre of milk, but they have to spend ₹40 to ₹45 to produce it, Mr. Venu says.

“Now, the farmers are selling the produce to the primary milk cooperative at a loss of ₹10 a litre . Hence, the price should be fixed at ₹50 a litre”, he says.

The price of a bag of cattle feed in the market on Friday was ₹1,640 a bag as against ₹860 a bag in 2019.

The prices of green fodder, veterinary medicines, and hay have also increased considerably, but a proportionate increase was not seen in the price of milk, he says.

“The inferior quality of milk brought to Kerala from neighbouring States is another threat for the community but the authorities are yet to adopt any steps to curb it,” he adds.

The spread of diseases such as mastitis, foot-and-mouth disease, and lumpy skin disease also raises the farmers’ concerns since it will reduce milk production, cause poor growth, and lack of appetite, says H.B. Pradeep, former president, Primary Milk Society Association.

If the authorities allow a 50% subsidy for cattle feed and provide incentives to farmers every month, it will give a fresh lease to the lives of the community, he adds.

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