Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Centre has embarked on a contingency plan to import skimmed milk powder (SMP) in the coming weeks to bring down the prices which had shot up during July.

The Union Minister of state for Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution K.V. Thomas in a written reply admitted in the Lok Sabha that domestic prices of the SMP were much higher than the average international prices.

Prices shoot up

He said that the National Dairy Development Board was advised to draw up a contingency plan to import SMP if the situation so warranted in the coming weeks.

The prices of SMP shot up in India to stand at Rs. 140 per kg in July, whereas it was almost steady in Oceania at Rs. 97 per kg, while in Western Europe and the U.S. it rose marginally to stand at Rs. 114 and Rs. 97 per kg. respectively.

Affected by the summer

According to Mr. Thomas international prices of SMP in Oceania, Western Europe and USA depended upon factors like cost of production of milk there and export subsidy provided by the respective government, whereas in India it tended to increase during the summer in tune with the decrease in procurement of milk.

Heat stress affected milch animals leading to low production and procurement, affecting cost of production and also the same of price of milk powder.

He regarded the rise in price as a seasonal development and assured of imports if the situation so warranted.

Mr. Thomas however maintained that milk production at the national level was largely sufficient to meet the domestic consumption of milk and milk products.