The BJP on Monday launched a statewide agitation against the steep decline in milk prices – from Rs 27 per litre to Rs 16 per litre – in the last four months.
At the end of the day, BJP leaders submitted their demands, including subsidy of Rs 10 per litre for dairy farmers and Rs 50 per kg for milk powder, to the collectors’ offices in their respective districts.
The party warned that it will intensify the agitation from August 1 if the demands were not addressed by the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.
State Minister for Dairy Development Sunil Kedar has called a meeting on Tuesday, to be attended by the representatives from private, cooperative and government milk federations.
“The meeting was scheduled before the BJP agitation. The state government has launched a milk procurement scheme on April 6, under which, surplus milk is being procured to keep the demand and supply steady. The milk is being processed into milk powder,” said Kedar.
Maintaining that the fall in milk prices is a result of the lockdown, he added: “The demand has shrunk as hotels, restaurants and sweet shops were shut.”
“We have repeatedly sought the Centre’s intervention in providing dairy farmers financial help. The proposal of the government that the Centre and the state should provide equal funds for the purchase of surplus milk and processing of milk powder had received no response. Therefore, accusing the state government for falling milk rates is not factually right,” said Kedar.
Congress leader and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat said, “The BJP has no right to talk about farmers’ rights. It needs to explain why the Centre has allowed the import of 10,000 metric tonne of milk powder? When there is a surplus of milk and milk powder, the Centre should have given incentives for the export of milk powder.” In all, 1.4 crore litres milk is produced in the state daily. While cooperative milk unions procure 35 lakh litres, the private dairies buy 90 lakh litres from diary farmers. Almost 15 lakh litres is sold by farmers directly to hotels and sweet shops among others. The government-owned milk federation buys only lakh litres.
BJP Kisan cell president and former agriculture minister Anil Bonde submitted the charter of demands at the district collector office in Amravati. “Dairy farmers are in dire financial crisis. The production cost of one litre of milk is Rs 25. Unless the government fixes the rate at Rs 30 per litre, farmers will not get a decent income,” said Bonde.
“The Devendra Fadnavis government had given Rs 5 per litre subsidy for dairy farmers and Rs 50 per kg subsidy for milk powder… But the scheme has been scrapped by the current government,” he added.
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