After the hike in prices of petrol, diesel and the increase in water tariffs in Bangalore, it appears to be the turn of milk prices to go northwards.
“The hike is imminent. The Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) had proposed to increase the price by Rs. 2 to Rs. 4 in February. Now, it is left to Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and KMF Chairman Somashekar Reddy to take a final decision,” a senior KMF official said. (At the time, Mr. Yeddyurappa had put the proposal on hold, apparently in view of the impending elections to Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike.) Now, that the elections are over, KMF officials expect a decision soon, the official added. At present, the KMF procures more than 30 lakh litres of milk a day.
A KMF source pointed out that it other States, a litre of milk is priced between Rs. 22 and Rs. 24.
“Here, it is Rs. 16, while the farmers get around Rs. 13 to Rs. 14 a litre. The procurement rate differs between the milk unions. We cannot do justice to farmers if we don't raise the price.”
The source claimed some farmers in the KMF network had started supplying milk to private dairies as they were being paid a higher price. The private diaries export to other States at an even higher price. “Milk production is falling as animal husbandry had become unviable for farmers. Increasing the procurement price is the only way we can ensure that milk does not flow out of our State. Also, the KMF has to offer competitive prices to farmers. When people can buy a litre of bottled water for Rs. 18, why can't they pay a little more for milk?” the source asked.
Last year also the KMF had proposed a hike, but dropped it after the State Government announced an incentive of Rs. 2 per litre to farmers.