Milk procurement in the Thiruvananthapuram region of Kerala Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. has touched an all-time low, with daily procurement hovering around 1.4 lakh litres of milk.

Last year, during the corresponding season, procurement was around two lakh litres a day.

The sale of liquid milk in the region (comprising the four districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha) has, however, remained the same as in the previous year, at around 4.4 lakh litres a day.

“We have not faced such a heavy reduction in procurement in recent times. Managing a shortage of over 3 lakh litres of liquid milk daily is not an easy task. If it were not for the reconstitution of milk using milk powder, there was no way we could meet the demand for liquid milk in the market,” a senior Milma official said.

The situation is much better in the other two regions (Ernakulam and Malabar) of Milma, where the gap between procurement and supply is not so huge.

“As long as the dairy farmer does not get the right price, the milk procurement figures are going to slip further. The selling price of a litre of liquid milk in our State is Rs.20, while in all other States the average price ranges from Rs.22-25 a litre. The farmer here is getting around Rs.16.4 for every litre of milk he sells. Unless we are able to give him around Rs.20-21 a litre, more farmers will quit the sector; which is why we have proposed that the selling price of milk be hiked by at least Rs.5 a litre,” he said.

Milma officials said that of the proposed Rs.5 hike, Rs. 4.6 would go to the dairy farmer and distributors and milk societies would get 20 paise each.

They said Milma was not taking any share from the proposed hike. So, there was no question of their prospering out of it. The proposed price hike would ensure that the farmer got Rs.21 for every litre of milk.

The acute shortage in domestic milk procurement and the dwindling milk supplies from neighbouring States had forced Milma to import 1,000 tonnes of skimmed milk powder from Ireland two weeks ago. “If we have to cater to the market demand for liquid milk daily, we have to resort to reconstitution. The raw milk that we have contains about 4.2 per cent fat. We reduce the fat in the milk to 1.5 per cent, add milk powder to reconstitute and double the total quantity of raw milk which meets the specifications of double-toned milk (yellow sachets),” the official said.

Milma received yet another consignment of nearly 150 tonnes of milk powder from Ireland on Saturday.

Another consignment of 1,000 tones will be received next week.

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