When the first and second waves of Covid hit, dairy farmers suffered huge losses. Their cattle was affected and due to lockdown restrictions, they could not even sell milk to their regular customers, restaurants and supermarkets. To help them, the Central zone of Milma, which includes Ernakulam, Idukki, Kottayam and Thrissur districts, procured produce from all their farmers. As it celebrates the 100th year of its inception, Milma’s central Kerala chairman John Theruvath says farmer-friendly policies helped Milma achieve its mission. The total production in the zone, before the lockdown, was 3,80,000 litres. But when hotels, restaurants and supermarkets shut down, it rose to 4,10,000.
When other zones cut down production by 50 per cent, considering the difficulties in storage and supply, the Central zone decided to procure the whole production from farmers. “During the first wave, 25 per cent of the total milk produced became excess. We collected this excess and every 10 days, their payments were disbursed through the primary societies. In the five months, around Rs 6 crore was given as incentive in the zone,” he said
Taking one FOR its farmers
During the second wave, when the restrictions were further intensified, things became worse. The zone’s storage capacity was only 7.5 lakh litres across 55 tanks. Considering the need to stock the extra produce, it was Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and converted into milk powder. The zone lost Rs 15 per litre in the process.
- During the first wave, they also received the support of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB). The following moves helped farmers and their families through the period:
- Societies and farmers who faced losses during the 2018 flood were given Rs 444.59 lakh from the National Plan for Dairy Development
- Project to give compensation of Rs 25,000 for the families of the society presidents who died due to Covid and Rs 10,000 for the families of office-bearers and farmers, started
- Insurance premium subsidy for farmers under Anand Model Dairy society
- Rs 85,000 for constructing a building for dairy societies
- 50% subsidy for purchasing utensils and electric centrifuge
- 4-hour veterinary service in 18 centres for the cattle of the dairy farmers.
- Training centre in the name of Dr Varghese Kurian, in Munnar, offering training for presidents, office-bearers and workers in groups of 40.
- A bust of Dr Varghese Kurian to be installed in front of the head office
- Masks distributed in the government schools
- Safety guards supplied to auto rickshaw drivers
- Cycle rally held to promote Milma Day, Health Day
- Products on discount rates at the factory outlets in Tripunithura, Edappally and Muvattupuzha on November 25 and 26.