Private dairies in Maharashtra have begun building a database of farmers from whom they buy milk. This, the dairies say, will help them pass on government subsidies, if any, directly to the farmers and bring about more transparency.
Rajiv Mitra, managing director of the Satara-based Govind Milk and Milk Products, said the database would be ready in three months. “This will allow for direct benefit transfer as well as bring better transparency in the system,” he said.
Unlike Gujarat or Karnataka, the dairy sector in Maharashtra is fragmented with private and cooperative dairies competing with each other both in terms of retail sales as well as milk procurement. Private dairies account for around 70 per cent of the 1.4 crore litres of milk procured in the state daily. However, private dairies do not deal directly with farmers but with Bulk Milk Coolers (BMC) operators, who in turn arrange for milk for the dairies. Payment is made to the BMC operators who arrange for payment to farmers. Most dairies ensure online payment down the value chain.
While for dairies, the present system allows for less paperwork, this also creates an awkward situation for the state government as far as direct subsidy programmes go. During the recent agitation by the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana, demanding a Rs 5 per litre subsidy for dairy farmers, the infrastructural lacunae had come to the fore. Officials of the dairy development department said this was not possible given that the state did not have the database of farmers who deal with private players.
Karnataka has a direct subsidy programme for farmers, under which the state government directly transfers Rs 5 per litre to dairy farmers.
Cooperative dairies, on the other hand, have made efforts to maintain such a database through dairy societies at the village level. Cooperative dairies also make direct bank transfers to farmers’ accounts for their fortnightly milk payments. Now, private dairies have started work on collating the database of their farmers. This will include details like Aadhaar and bank account numbers of the farmers.
Special drives will be undertaken to ensure all dairy farmers have bank accounts.