Reiterating their demand for an increase in per litre price of milk for dairy farmers, the Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) on Monday staged protests across 16 districts in Maharashtra. It also urged the State government to give security to smaller dairy farmers by fixing a fair and remunerative price (FRP) for milk along the lines of sugarcane prices.
The AIKS has attributed the price fall to the monopoly of large dairy cooperatives and private dairy owners. It alleged that milk farmers were given low prices by private and cooperative milk unions who cut costs by claiming a low demand for milk during the pandemic-induced lockdown.
Milk producers in Ahmednagar, Pune, Nashik, Satara, Solapur, Aurangabad, Sangli, Kolhapur, Osmanabad, Jalna, Buldhana and Latur staged demonstrations at milk collection centres.
“Because of the connivance between private dairy owners, common dairy farmers are suffering heavy losses. We demand that farmers be given a minimum purchase price of ₹35 per litre for cow milk and ₹60 per litre for buffalo milk,” Ajit Nawale of the AIKS said.
He said that an FRP (the minimum price at which sugar cane is to be purchased by sugar mills from farmers) be fixed for milk so as to provide basic security to dairy farmers up against the might of bigger cooperatives.
“If this is not done, then dairy farmers will ensure that the milk supply to the State is paralysed. We will stage a massive agitation in the near future,” Mr. Nawale warned.
Citing the pandemic-induced lockdown as a pretext, the AIKS said that private and cooperative milk unions had slashed the purchase price of milk by ₹10 to ₹15 per litre, while keeping the selling rate unchanged for consumers.
To protest this, the outfit had staged a Maharashtra-wide agitation in June this year. At the time, Dairy Development Minister Sunil Kedar had chaired a joint meeting of representatives of farmers’ associations and milk companies and had assured dairy farmers of higher milk prices.
“Even after nearly two months, the rates have not been increased despite the Minister’s assurances. We have sent scores of mails to the Chief Minister, the Deputy Chief Minister and the Dairy Development Minister to no avail,” Mr. Nawale said.
He further demanded that the State government enact anti-looting laws to check private and cooperative milk unions from exploiting smaller milk producers and that legally guarantee that pure milk would be made available to consumers at reasonable prices by strictly enforcing anti-adulteration laws.
“The government must also make it mandatory for dairy farms to use certified milk meters and stop the use of faulty milk meters and appoint independent inspectors to check them,” Mr. Nawale said.