The principal secretary of animal husbandry, dairy development and fisheries, Anoop Kumar, has assured timely distribution of subsidy to enable dairies pay the government-decided rate of Rs 25 per litre to farmers in the state. Kumar, who was speaking to The Indian Express late Monday, said that the procedural glitches in subsidy payment would be resolved.
Faced with low procurement prices, dairy farmers in Maharashtra had taken to the streets in July. Dairies, both cooperative and private, had pointed to the lower international prices of commodities like Skimmed Milk Powder (SMP), which slowed down exports. Following discussions with farmers, the government had finalised a subsidy scheme, which would see the government pay a subsidy of Rs 5 per litre and dairies Rs 20 a litre to farmers as procurement price of milk with 3.5 per cent fat and 8.5 per cent SNF (solid not fat).
The scheme was to run till the end of November but was subsequently extended till the end of January. However, dairies have complained of delay in payment of subsidy. Prakash Kutwal, secretary of the Milk Producers and Processors Association, said that dairies were yet to be paid Rs 100 crore worth of subsidies from September onwards. “We have paid the farmers in anticipation of the subsidy but the government has failed to pay us on time,” he said.
Dairies have threatened to pull out of the scheme. A final decision is to be taken on December 5. Responding to the criticism, Kumar said that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis himself had directed that the subsidy scheme should continue. “There might have been operational glitches but there is no shortage of funds for the scheme,” he said.
The process involves payment of subsidy after verifying the bank statements of farmers. Under the scheme, diaries are asked to submit the bank statements of farmers after which the government transfers the subsidy amount to the dairies.
Kumar said that 42 dairies were part of the scheme and already subsidy worth Rs 100 crore had been paid to them. “Only dairies which fulfill the requirement of submission of bank details are eligible for subsidy,” he said.
Dairies unable to meet this requirement are not eligible. Officials of the Kolhapur District Cooperative Milk Producers Union (Gokul) said that direct payment to farmers’ accounts was problematic given the fact that many small farmers prefer to get paid in cash. Gokul and other cooperative dairies pay via the village-level dairy cooperative societies.