Nandini milk consumers may be forced to dig deeper into their pockets shortly as the Karnataka Milk Federation on Monday resolved to seek a hike of Rs. 4 per litre of milk, citing increasing production cost to farmers. However, the State government will have a say eventually on the quantum of hike to be effected, that is likely from February 1.
If the Rs. 4 per litre hike, proposed in the KMF’s board meeting chaired by Chairman G. Somashekar Reddy is accepted by the government, the largest sold toned milk variety will cost Rs. 28. Not only would the cost of milk go up, but also other essential milk products such as ghee and curd.
“The board resolution will be sent to the government. The federation has normally hiked the milk price with the concurrence of the government, and we hope our resolution would be accepted this time also,” a senior KMF official told The Hindu. According to the official, since the matter is of sensitive nature, it may have to be approved by the Cabinet.
Another official said that the hike was imperative since the cost of diesel, electricity and cattle feed among others had seen an increase. “Even other States would start increasing the price in the near future.” Farmers, who are getting anywhere between Rs. 17 and Rs. 19 per litre of milk (depending on the respective milk union), stand to gain with the bulk of the proposed hike going to them.
The KMF currently is grappling with the problem of handling excess milk. While it currently procures about 45 lakh kg of milk, it sells about 32 lakh litres as milk while another 7 to 8 lakh litres is used for dairy products such as ghee, curd, butter milk and Nandini sweet products among others, leaving about 5 to 6 lakh kg in excess.
“Excess milk touched nearly 15 lakh kg daily a few months back as procurement went up since many private dairies are not accepting milk from farmers due to higher cost. This resulted in production of skimmed milk powder (SMP) in recent months, the stocks of which has reached a gigantic 18,000 metric tonnes.”
Meanwhile, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha leader Kodihalli Chandrashekar, who led a farmers’ protest in front of KMF here on Monday, said that the farmers were only “temporarily happy” with the proposed hike. “In the long run, we want the federation to give us scientific price taking into considering the production cost. We will press for additional support to the farmers during the meeting with Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Tuesday.”
He further said that they had suggested that Rs. 2 subsidy per litre of milk that the government is giving farmers could be adjusted against the cattle feed, which farmers buy from KMF.
The farmers called off the protest after Mr. Reddy came out of the KMF board meeting and announced the proposal to hike milk price.