The Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) has played havoc in the country, killing thousands of cattle in many States. The situation in Gujarat is completely under control and the disease will not impact the milk production, sales or its prices in the long run, said R.S. Sodhi, Managing Director (MD) of Amul, the cooperative giant in the milk sector. In an interview to The Hindu, Mr. Sodhi said the decrease in milk production in Gujarat, where 91,000 cases of LSD were reported, was just 0.25%.
He said proper vaccination could curb the disease in other parts of the country too and he offered to share Amul’s expertise with other States to deal with the situation. “We are in touch with State governments in Punjab and Rajasthan and other States on the situation. We are ready to provide any assistance to control the situation. Vaccination is the best way to curb the disease. On the national level, I don’t think there will be any impact in the production due to the LSD. We had a good monsoon. Milk production will improve now. In the organised sector, LSD had no impact on production and procurement. I also don’t see any impact of LSD on the milk prices and milk production in the long term,” Mr. Sodhi said.
Second year in a row
He said Gujarat faced LSD for the second year in a row. Gujarat alone reported more than 91,000 cases of LSD and 3,260 deaths. The disease was reported first from the Saurashtra region, in the districts adjoining Rajasthan. In 2021, it was more in south Gujarat. “As soon as the disease was reported, we held a joint meeting with the State authorities which was chaired by Chief Minister Bhupendrabhai Patel. Amul has 1,100 veterinary doctors working with us. I also received a call from Union Home Minister Amit Shah asking us to take all measures to control the LSD. The government’s veterinary infrastructure is very strong in the Saurashtra region. In northern and central Gujarat, we have very good infrastructure. So we made joint teams immediately and decided to provide treatment for affected animals. It takes seven to 12 days for an animal to recover from this disease. During the time, milk production decreases to 50 to 70%,” Mr. Sodhi said.
He said vaccination of animals around the affected areas was also started simultaneously. “We created a ring of vaccination around those affected areas to prevent spreading of the disease. Till now we have vaccinated around 33 lakh animals. The government also imposed restriction on movement of animals. As a result, the spreading stopped. The recovery rate of affected animals is also good. The decrease in production was about 50,000 litres a day out of the daily production of two crore litres. It was just 0.25%. As of now, in Gujarat the LSD is in total control. There are no new cases. The production of milk is also normal now,” he said.
Rise in prices
When asked about the recent decision of Amul to increase the milk prices by ₹2 per litre, he said it had nothing to do with the LSD. “It was because of increase in input cost, particularly that of cattle feed. But if one compares this with the increase in food prices in the last two years, the increase in milk prices is very minimal,” he said.
Mr. Sodhi said the farmers were bearing the burden of the GST Council’s decision to impose 5% Goods and Services Tax on milk products. “We have added five per cent GST on butter milk and curd after the decision to levy GST on these products. We do not want to burden the consumers more, so the five per cent GST is being borne by the farmers. There is a five per cent extra burden on farmers,” Mr. Sodhi said.