Already stressed by OMFED’s low procurement, dairy farmers of Jagatsinghpur district are facing an existential crisis due to the ongoing lockdown.
With shops and hotels closed for over a month, sale of cottage cheese and other milk-based products has taken a hit, putting their livelihood at stake.
The State-run OMFED, currently, is procuring only half the amount of milk from them on alternate days.
There are over 800 dairy cooperative societies in the district which sell over 10 quintal cottage cheese or “chhena” daily but with the lockdown in force, they are suffering a loss of Rs 1.65 lakh which translates to Rs 49.50 lakh in a month.
In Naugaon block alone, there are over 400 families who sustain through dairy farming. With nearly 120 cooperative societies in operation, these dairy farmers used to supply cheese and other milk products to sweetmeat shops and hotels across the district and even in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.
But the business has come to a grinding halt amid the pandemic. Closure of eating joints, restrictions on public movement and rise in cases of infections cumulatively led to a dip in demand and customers.
Bhamarbar Das, a cottage cheese supplier in Naugaon, says he has been in the business for nearly four decades but this is for the first time that he has suffered losses on such a huge scale. The farmers have appealed to the government to provide them compensation.
Admitting reduction in milk procurement by OMFED during lockdown, Manager (laboratory) of its Ambasal Milk Chilling Plant in Balikuda, Ashok Rout said OMFED earlier procured over 40,000 liter milk from Balikuda and Naugaon areas but now only 22,000 liters is being collected on alternate days.