State Minister for Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Fisheries, Sunil Kedar, has written to his counterpart in the central government, Giriraj Singh, asking for central assistance to implement a scheme to help the dairy sector. In the letter, Kedar has asked for 50 per cent central assistance for the Rs 400-crore scheme, which the government plans to implement in the next four months.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has seen reduced sales in the dairy sector, as regualar customers such as hotels, restaurants, catering services and sweetmeat shops, among others, have been closed down. Of the 1 crore litres of milk procured by dairies per day, nearly 10 lakh litres remain unsold on an average. Dairies have started converting this excess milk into skimmed milk powder (SMP).
Low sales have also seen dairies slashing the procurement price of milk for farmers as well as announcing collection holidays. Dairy farmers, who were earlier paid Rs 31-32 per litre of milk, are now paid a much reduced sum of Rs 20 per litre.
Because of the lockdown, farmers are also finding it difficult to procure feed for their animals.
To help out dairy farmers, the state government has decided to procure the excess milk. The state government will procure milk from dairies which are paying a minimum base rate of Rs 25 per litre. The procured milk will be converted into SMP by the government and sold later.
The scheme is going to cost nearly Rs 400 crore for the next four months. Requesting the central government to contribute 50 per cent of the amount, Kedar said without this assistance, dairy farmers will not be able to maintain their herd for the upcoming summer months. This, in turn, will affect milk production in the state.
Minister issues showcause notice for dereliction of duty
While on a visit to a state-run SMP plant in Wardha district on Friday, state Minister for Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Fisheries, Sunil Kedar, issued showcause notices to its officers for dereliction of duty. Kedar, along with Assembly Speaker Nana Patole, had gone for an inspection visit to the plant, but found it closed. The minister has asked the officers to draw up a report about the work needed to make the plant operational, and also to ensure that this is done in the next 15 days.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines