With summer around the corner, the districts of Thrissur, Ernakulam, Kottayam and Idukki are faced with a serious shortage of milk. The demand-supply gap is at more than one lakh litre a day.

A technical hitch at the chilling plant in Tripunithura early this week indicated the shape of things to come as supplies were seriously curtailed. Things are back to normal at the plant, but the problem of falling procurement seems here to stay.

Ernakulam Regional Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Ltd. (ERCMPU) sources said procurement of milk had fallen and out-of-State supplies had dwindled. The four districts require supply of 3.10 and 3.15 lakh litres a day. However, supply now ranges between 1.95 and 2.5 lakh litres. The wet months were the peak milk production season and during those months the demand-supply gap shrank substantially, even to about 30,000 litres a day, sources added.

One of the reasons for the current shortage is the dwindling procurement of milk from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Both the States saw a fall in milk production after the spread of foot-and-mouth disease a few months ago. Dairy farmers in the States were yet to recoup the losses to the disease, sources said.

The four districts under ERCMPU account for a total of 850 Anand Pattern Milk Cooperative Societies (APCOS) and about a 100 traditional societies.

Meanwhile, dairy farmers have been demanding free supply of cattle feed in order to overcome the after-effects of the spread of foot-and-mouth disease in the districts. The government had promised four sacks of cattle feed. The first round of free distribution saw farmers getting one sack of feed each.

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