‘It may come down to less than 40 lakh kilograms daily’

The milk procurement by the Karnataka Milk Federation, which has declined by almost 10 lakh kilograms a day in the last few weeks, is expected to decline further. This also comes in the light of farmers in several districts in south Karnataka selling their cattle due to scarcity of fodder, water and high cost of feed.

While the daily procurement had reached a record high of 55 lakh kilograms a couple of months ago, it has now fallen to 45 lakh kilograms daily. “We are anticipating a further decline to less than 40 lakh kilograms daily,” a senior KMF official told The Hindu.

A decline in the lean season is normal, he said and added that the situation this year is being compounded by the scarcity of fodder and water in several districts.

Sources, however, said that even if it falls to around 40 lakh kilograms, the federation would be able to meet the demand.

At present, the federation sells about 31 lakh litres of milk, and uses about 9 lakh litres for curd, buttermilk, panneer, cova and sweets, among others.

Distress sale

The deficit rainfall has added to the woes of the farmers who are resorting to distress sale of cattle due to fodder and water shortage.

K.B. Bommegowda, a resident of Kajjikoplu in Pandavapura taluk, Mandya district, who owned six cows, has sold four of them. “I sold the cows to an agent for a price ranging from Rs. 4,500 to Rs. 12,000,” he said.

“The cost for a tractor load of hay, which was between Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 8,000, now costs between Rs. 14,000 and Rs. 20,000. There is also scarcity of water,” he added.

Similarly, many others in his village have sold their cattle unable to feed them.

Confirming that distress cattle sale is taking place in big numbers to agents from Tamil Nadu, B. Nagbhushan, Secretary of Doddhindvadi Milk Producers Cooperative Society, in Kollegal taluk of Chamarajnagar district, said that cattle was being sold at throwaway prices.

“We were collecting about 1,000 litres of milk daily till recently and it has now come down to about 700 litres a day. This is mainly due to cattle sale and also due to the lean season,” he said and added that milk procurement by the milk union in Kollegal taluk has come down to about 70,000 litres a day from about one lakh litres a day. The KMF officials, who acknowledged that they were aware of such distress sale due to fodder and water shortage, however, attributed the decline in procurement to the lean season.