Dairies in Maharashtra are facing a shortage in milk supply from farmers, leading to a steep hike in procurement prices in the last 10 days. The shortage has stumped the industry, which usually sees increased milk production from September.
According to industry sources, Maharashtra’s per day milk collection at present is about 1.10 crore litres, much lower than the average collection of 1.40 crore litres in December last year. This has pushed up procurement prices, with dairies in Ahmednagar paying Rs 29-30 per litre for milk and dairies in Sangli, Kolhapur and Pune paying Rs 26-28 per litre of milk.
Dr Vivek Ksheersagar, managing director of the Pune District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union — the proprietor of Katraj — attributed the shortage to delayed onset of flush season.
Once monsoon is over, milk production increases due to the easy availability of green fodder and water. The ‘flush season’ usually starts in September and continues till March. Post April, milk production dips as both green fodder and water become scarce, and this is known as the lean period.
But this year, the drought in some parts of the state and floods in others has delayed the start of flush season. Dairy farmers usually reduce the intake of non-lactating or pregnant animals during fodder scarcity, which results in animals going into ‘shock’. It takes almost a year or so for animals to return to their normal milk production.
“Flash floods, especially in Sangli and Kolhapur, had resulted in the death of nearly 9,000 animals…but what has hit the supply is the state of ‘shock’ of animals due to unavailability of fresh green fodder,” said Ksheersagar. In Ahmednagar, Nashik, Pune and Solapur, drought-like conditions till the end of June resulted in a dip in milk production.
While Ksheersagar said the state may not see a flush season at all this season, Rajiv Mitra, CEO of Lactalis Prabhat, said the flush season may start only in January.
Meanwhile, prices of both skimmed milk powder (SMP) and white butter have seen a sharp spike in domestic and international markets. On December 3, the average SMP price quoted on globaldairytrade, the online fortnightly platform operated by New Zealand’s dairy giant Fonterrra, touched a five-year high of $3,068 per tonne. Domestically, both SMP and white butter are now trading at Rs 310-315 per kg.
State dairies are apprehensive that if the SMP price increases any further, the government may opt to import the commodity.