To discuss their future course of action in the agitation seeking increase in milk procurement rates, farmers under the banner of Kisan Sabha and MLA Bacchu Kadu have organised a gram sabha in Lakhganaga village on May 18. Meanwhile, the state government has implemented its subsidy programme that will help dairies pay higher prices to the farmers. Situated in Vaijapur taluka of Aurangabad district, locals of Lakhganaga village had started a weeklong protest against the lower realisations, during which they distributed milk free of cost.
Last year, the state government had introduced a hike in the procurement rate of milk —Rs 27 per litre for milk with 3.5 per cent fat and 8.5 solid not fat (SNF). However, at present, none of the dairies in Maharashtra are paying the price, citing glut in milk production and tax on byproducts. State dairies are currently paying Rs 17-25 per litre, said a farmer.
Ajit Nawale, general secretary of Kisan Sabha, said the gram sabha would decide the next course of action. “Independent MLA Bacchu Kadu will be present at the meeting,” he said.
In view of the agitation, the state government has announced a subsidy of Rs 3 per litre for production of Skimmed Milk Powder (SMP), provided the producers are able to manufacture 20 per cent extra SMP starting May 13.
Officers of the Dairy Development Department said the subsidy will be paid to the 26 (20 private and six cooperative) milk dairies, which have SMP manufacturing facility. The subsidy, which amounts to about Rs 32 crore, will be paid after the month is over. “We hope that the subsidy will prompt the manufacturers to increase their production figures and, eventually, spruce up the procurement price of milk,” said a senior official of the department. As much as 11 liters of milk is required to make 1 kg of SMP.
Both farmers and dairy owners, however, have ruled out any price correction in milk because of this scheme and, instead, have rooted for a direct subsidy to dairy farmers.