Unlike other industries that fear “dumping” from China (steel), South Korea (chemicals) or Indonesia and Malaysia (palm oil) in the event of an RCEP deal, the concerns of Indian dairies largely pertain to New Zealand and Australia.
Failure of fodder crops like maize, jowar (sorghum) and the closure of the sugarcane crushing season has amplified the crisis, with more and more farmers taking their animals to the nearest fodder camp for survival.
The drought has also led to a dip in milk production. Most dairies say production is down by about 20 per cent. As fodder and water become scarce, most farmers are struggling to keep their livestock alive.
In July this year, farmers’ organisations in the state held large-scale protests and disrupted the supply of milk to major cities, forcing the state govt. to intervene and extend a subsidy of Rs 5 per litre for export of SMP.
"There is no shortage of milk in the state. In terms of per capita availability of milk, Punjab is the leader among the milk-producing states with 1,035 ml of milk available per person per day, which is far more than Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat," says Kahan Singh Pannu.