Milk and vegetables might start pinching Puneities as the first day of the farmers’ strike affected the supplies to Pune. While Pune district cooperative milk producers union — which sells under the brand Katraj — reported a dip of over 50 per cent in milk production on Thursday, Chitale Dairy has announced that they will not be procuring milk from the farmers to support the ongoing strike.
Farmers across Maharashtra have started their first-ever strike to press for their demand of loan waiver as well as implementation of the suggestion of the Swaminathan Committee’s report to decide agricultural produce. After talks with the government failed, Kisan Kranti, the umbrella organisation which has spearheaded the strike, has called for stoppage of supply of milk and vegetables to cities. Reports have poured in of farmers stopping vehicles carrying vegetables and tankers of milk in various parts of the state.
Dilip Khaire, president of Pune wholesale market, said only about 50 per cent of the usual arrivals had come to the market. “We have spoken to traders, but if the farmers do not come to the market, what can they do?” he said. Farmers in Maval, Junnar and other major vegetable-growing areas of the district have decided to take part in the strike which had hit the supply. With the wholesale market hit, the retail markets in various parts of the city was also hit. This scarcity is set to increase the price of vegetables in the retail markets. Vishnu Salve, president of Pimpri wholesale market, said prices of vegetables is expected to see a steep rise from Friday as supplies are squeezed more. “We expect the prices to rise by almost 50-60 per cent,” he said.
As farmers took to the street, milk procurement of the major dairies in Pune were also hit. Vishnu Hingne, president of Pune district cooperative milk producers union, popularly known as Katraj Dairy, said they were able to procure only 50 per cent of their daily milk requirement. “Farmers have refused to provide milk,” he said. The dairy procures on an average 1.5 lakh litres milk daily in and around Pune. Similarly, the Kolhapur District Cooperative Milk Producers Union — the owners of Gokul brand — also reported a dip in milk procurement. Gokul supplies around 9.5 lakh litres of milk daily in Mumbai and Pune. As milk supply dries up, retail customers are set to feel the pinch.
Indraneel Chitale, partner of Sangli-based Chitale Dairy, said they have decided to stop procuring from the farmers to support their ongoing strike. The dairy, which procures around 4.5 lakh litres of milk per day from Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur regions, distributes almost an equivalent amount in and around Pune. “The farmer is the start of the ecosystem and if he is happy every one else will be happy too. It is a very sensitive issue and we hope a way out is found soon,” he said.