MILK FARMERS in the state called off their agitation on Thursday, hours after the Maharashtra government announced that from July 21, dairies would pay them Rs 25 per litre to procure milk with 3.5 per cent fat and 8.5 per cent solid not fat (SNF).
The government also announced that it will provide a subsidy of Rs 5 per litre on milk to dairies for converting their excess milk into skimmed milk powder (SMP) or for non-pouch sale, at least for three months, and then review the decision. At present, farmers are paid between Rs 17 and 18 per litre for milk, which is procured by dairies and later sold at higher rates to consumers across the state.
Since Monday, Maharashtra has been on the boil, with farmers’ unions blocking the supply of milk to urban areas of Mumbai and Pune.
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader and MP Raju Shetti, who met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at Ramgiri in Nagpur, told mediapersons: “I announce the withdrawal of the agitation. The state government has taken a good decision to give a subsidy of Rs 5 per litre for milk. The decision to make dairies pay Rs 25 per litre to procure milk is welcome.”
He also announced that he would support the Opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion against the NDA government in the Parliament on Friday. “I will support the no-confidence motion against the government, as there are some issues. But if it gives loan waiver to farmers across the country, I will reconsider. The government has time till tomorrow,” said Shetti.
Earlier in the day, Dairy Development Minister Mahadev Jankar told the Legislative Assembly: “All dairies, both government and private, will have to pay a minimum price of Rs 25 per litre on milk procured from farmers. The government will provide Rs 5 per litre subsidy to all dairies.”
“The decision will help farmers earn more. Now, dairies will have to pay Rs 25 per litre, which has become the base price,” he added.
The minister made the announcement after a meeting convened by Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade. Fadnavis, Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, NCP leader Ajit Pawar, leaders and representatives of milk suppliers attended the meeting.
In the morning, state Minister Girish Mahajan had first started a dialogue with Shetti, who proposed three alternatives — direct subsidy of Rs 5 per litre to farmers, Rs 25 per litre as procurement price with the government subsidising the production of skimmed milk powder (SMP) for dairies and the government procuring 20 lakh litres of excess milk and converting the same into SMP. Later in the day, Shetti had left for Nagpur.
Vishwas Patil, chairman of Gokul, the Kolhapur district cooperative milk producers’ union, said the government has announced a subsidy of R 5 per litre for dairies to deal with their excess milk, which is not sold in pouches. “Such subsidy will be given to dairies for conversion of milk into SMP or for selling it loose — in tankers to other commodity manufacturers,” he added.
Maharashtra, among the leading states when it comes to supply of milk, produces 1.30 crore litre of milk. The government’s decision to provide a subsidy of Rs 5 per litre will cause a financial burden of Rs 75 crore per month to the state exchequer.
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