Milk producers upset over move to sign RCEP pact

‘Free-trade agreement will hit the traditional dairy sector’

The Malabar Regional Milk Producers Union (MRMPU) affiliated to the Kerala Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (Milma) has appealed to the Union government to withdraw from its decision to sign the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnerships (RCEP), a free-trade agreement among 10 member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, claiming that it will disrupt the traditional dairy sector and allied venturers in Kerala.

Members of the administrative committee of MRMPU told reporters here on Thursday that the free-trade partnership would directly affect over 3 lakh dairy farmers in the Malabar region alone. The impact would be equally visible in other States like Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka, they said. Yusuf Koroth, convener of the committee, said the free-trade agreement, if signed by the government, would facilitate the easy import of milk and milk products from countries like Australia and New Zealand. “The Kerala market will not be able to withstand their marketing strategies and competition. The result will be a steep fall in the prices of native products,” he said.

The committee members said Milma’s intervention in the milk production and marketing sector had already fetched commendable results in the State’s dairy sector. It had also come up with supportive schemes such as interest-free loans and treatment aid for thousands of farmers working in the sector, they pointed out.

Committee member K.S. Mani said the shocking decision of the Union government on RCEP came at a time when the Milma was planning to introduce a number of new products, diversification projects and marketing strategies. “The signing of such an agreement will directly affect the product marketing of Milma in foreign countries,” he said.

K.M. Vijayakumaran, managing director of MRMPU, said a lot of innovative ventures were under consideration in the Malabar’s dairy sector as the region had been showcasing an outstanding performance in the total milk production and its annual turn over.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 10:16:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/milk-producers-upset-over-move-to-sign-rcep-pact/article29728299.ece

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