‘KMF must justify its demand for proposed increase in milk price'
The first thing many residents did here on Wednesday was to read advertisements in newspapers on how the rates paid by milk consumers in Karnataka are the lowest in the country.
H.L. Shenoy, a resident of Bikarnakatte, did not however believe the rate of the toned milk given in the advertisement of the Karnataka Milk Federation to justify its demand for an increase in the price of milk by Rs. 5. (The government is yet to decide on the quantum of increase).
“What we pay here is one rupee more than what has been mentioned in the newspaper. (The rate mentioned in the newspaper is Rs. 21 whereas the minimum cost here is Rs. 22). There is no explanation for this difference and also for the proposed hike,” he said. Mr. Shenoy said: “Just releasing advertisement with comparative rates of milk in other States does not help.”
The proposed hike has been the talk of the town with many expressing anguish over it. Many stated that the milk price was increased only in February this year. Nityananda Pai from Puttur Balakedarara Vedike said that the consumer had to know details that justified the proposed hike.
The KMF should explain the increase in the production cost and how it was cutting into the money paid to farmers, he added.
President of Dakshina Kannada District Cooperative Milk Producers' Societies' Union Ltd. (DKMUL) Raviraj Hegde said the proposed increase in the milk price was necessitated in order to meet the increase in the cost of fodder, diesel, labour, transportation and water charges.
Moreover, farmers in Kerala were getting Rs. 22.65 a litre, while farmers here got Rs. 20 (Rs. 18 from the union and Rs. 2 from the government). Consequently, Mr. Hegde said some farmers sold milk to the neighbouring State.
“Unless farmers are paid more, it is difficult to increase the production here,” he said.
Of the demand for 3.5 lakh litres, the union had been able to procure only 1.5 lakh litres from local farmers while for the rest, DKMUL depended on milk unions elsewhere in the State. Though not clearly specifying the total production cost, Mr. Hegde said it was around Rs. 26 in the State. It was comparable to the production cost in Kerala, he said.
Mr. Hegde said of the proposed increase of Rs. 5 a litre, 3.5 per cent would go to distributors towards commission.
But the quantum of increase in procurement price for farmers had not been decided yet.
Much of the additional revenue would go to meet increased establishment costs, including transport and electricity charges. A part of it would meet the administrative costs of the milk associations in villages, Mr. Hegde said.
He said that toned milk would cost more here because of the additional procurement cost in Dakshina Kannada and Uttar Kannada compared to other parts of the State.