The Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) is facing the tough challenge of increasing milk production in the districts in north Karnataka.
The KMF's report on annual milk yield has revealed that the 13 north Karnataka districts produce only 9 lakh litres of the 46 lakh litres of milk collected in the State everyday. South Karnataka produces four times as much.
At a recent function in Bangalore, KMF president G. Somashekara Reddy said the cooperative federation would focus on increasing production in north Karnataka. He said the KMF was tying up with cooperative banks to help farmers get loans to buy milch cattle and increase the number of milk processing plants in north Karnataka. He spoke of introducing improved breeds of cattle in north Karnataka districts.
Experts, however, feel that there is no need to change the local breeds of cattle, as they are good enough. These breeds can be improved, says R.N. Srinivas Gowda, former Vice-Chancellor of the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University. “The milk production potential of north Karnataka is as good as that of the south,” he said.
Farmers feel that the KMF should work towards creating more milk producers' cooperative societies, and increase procurement of milk from villages through the unions.
At present, for example, the Bidar-Gulbarga Cooperative Milk Producers' Societies Union procures milk only from around 15 per cent of the villages in Bidar district, and less than 10 per cent of villages in Gulbarga district. Farmers will benefit only if procurement multiplies, says dairy farmer and former president of the Bidar Zilla Panchayat Naseemoddin Patel. He says that no attempt has been made to promote milk producers' cooperative societies in villages after 1990.
The KMF should market milk and milk products aggressively, says Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha district unit president Vishwanath Patil Koutha. “The Bidar-Gulbarga union has declared that it has only 20 milk sale outlets in Bidar, Gulbarga and Yadgir, which have a combined population of 45 lakh. This is not how you do business,” he says. “If the KMF focusses only on collecting and processing of milk and making milk products, then who will worry about selling them? If they are not sold, the unions will not make profits and farmers will suffer. The KMF should seriously consider increasing the number of outlets and franchisees,” he says.
Bidar-Gulbarga union president Mallikarjun Biradar said the KMF was working towards increasing the number of cooperative societies, procurement routes in villages, and the marketing of milk and milk products. “We have asked the State for a special package for unions in north Karnataka, especially the Bidar-Gulbarga union,” Mr. Biradar said.