Milma Director Board asks committee to study market scene

An increase in the milk price is imminent with Milma asking a committee to study the market situation in detail.

At its meeting here on Thursday to discuss a crisis in the dairy sector evolving from a steep increase in the prices of cattle feed, the Director Board of the Kerala Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation directed its programming committee to conduct the study and submit a proposal on an increase in the price.

The 10-member committee, which will go into issues at the farm level too, will submit its report in a week’s time, when the Board is expected to meet again. The price of Milma cattle feed too will go up, and the committee will fix the quantum of increase for milk and feed, sources said.

They said a proposal to increase the price of milk would not have come up had it not been for the crisis evolving over the past two months.

The prices of private feed brands have gone up by over Rs. 200 for a 50-kg bag, placing a huge burden on the dairy farmers. In Kerala, one private brand owns 42 per cent of the market share, while Kerala Feeds of the State government accounts for 31 per cent and Milma 18 per cent.

The current price for a 50-kg bag is Rs. 650 for the public-sector brands and Rs. 850 for the private brands. The prices of feed produced in the public sector have remained the same since 2008. The increase in feed prices has driven the farmers to public-sector brands. However, the sector has not been able to meet the surge in demand.

“All these developments in the market are directly reflected in milk production in the State because the dairy farmer has had to cut down on the feed given to cows as they can no longer afford to buy it. Milma’s milk procurement, which used to be about 9.75 lakh litres a day about two months ago, has come down to 8.04 lakh litres,” a senior Milma official said.

The situation is no different in the rest of the country as there is a heavy shortage of raw materials required for manufacturing the feed, such as de-oiled rice bran, soyabean or cotton cake, which are currently being exported in huge quantities.

Milma has not increased its feed prices for many years. The dairy farmers will have to be compensated for the increased cost of milk production by increasing the market price of milk.

The programming committee, comprising the managing directors and the chairmen of the regional milk producers’ unions of Milma, the Chairman and Managing Director of Milma, the Marketing Manager and the Quality Control Manager, will now have to study farmers’ issues and assess the competitive market scene before drawing up a proposal to increase the prices.

“The cost of production of milk is much lower in the neighbouring States. One crucial issue we will have to consider is that in the current scene, an increased milk flow from the neighbouring States into Kerala does not happen; or else, our domestic dairy industry will be wiped out,” an official said.

Protest

Activists of the Democratic Youth Federation of India and the All India Youth Federation barged into the Board meeting in protest against the imminent increase in the price of milk, disrupting discussions for an hour. The protesters were arrested and removed by the police.

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