Notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic, farmer organisations have decided to hit the streets to protest against low realisation of dairy farmers. Farmers, under the banner of All India Kisan Sabha, protested on Monday by pouring milk on streets across the state, while the opposition party BJP has also declared its decision to do the same from August 1.
Dairies across the state have started correcting procurement price paid to farmers. While dairies in Kolhapur and Sangli continue to pay between Rs 25 and Rs 26 per litre for milk with 3.5 per cent fat and 8.5 per cent solid-non-fat (SNF), others, especially those in Ahmednagar, Solapur, etc, have reduced prices to between Rs 17 and Rs 22.50 per litre. As urban centres remain under lockdown, dairies have complained of dip in sales of milk and milk products, which has hit their bottom line and, thus, led them to reduce milk prices.
On Monday, members of All India Kisan Sabha, the farmer wing of the CPI(M), protested by pouring milk on the streets. Dr Ajit Navale, leader of the organisation, said they will continue to protest till the state government provided a Rs 10 per litre subsidy directly into the bank accounts of farmers.
“Our main demand is that the state government ensures that the realisation of farmers is Rs 30 per litre,” he said. Similarly, the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana, the farmer outfit founded by former MP Raju Shetti, has called for a supply holiday on Tuesday to press for a Rs 5 per litre subsidy.
The issue took a turn when the BJP decided to jump into the fray with former minister Chandrakant Patil asking for Rs 10 per litre subsidy. Patil said if the state government did not fulfil demands, they will start an agitation from August 1.
On Monday, Patil and former minister Sadabhau Khot submitted a proposal to the Sangli collector in this regard. Patil’s announcement drew a sharp response from state Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, who pointed to the decision of the central government to allow the import of 10,000 tonnes of skimmed milk powder (SMP) at reduced interest rate.
Dairy farmers in neighbouring Karnataka receive a Rs 6 per litre subsidy from the state government, which cushions them from price crash. Farmer leaders in the state have repeatedly asked for introduction of such a system with the Devendra Fadnavis-led government even introducing it briefly in 2018. Instead of farmers, however, the dairies were paid Rs 5 per litre after they ensured a base price of Rs 25 per litre to farmers.
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