Dairy farmers of Kendrapara district, who suffered massive losses last year due to the lockdown, were hoping for a revival of their fortune this year when the second wave of Covid-19 struck. The misery for the farmers began with the Odisha State Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation Limited (OMFED) drastically cutting down on milk procurement from them in the district.
“The decision of OMFED to cut down on milk procurement comes as a shock for farmers who are already suffering. The government must look into the issue and come up with a solution,” said Ramachandra Behera, a dairy farmer of Kendrapara town. The dairy farmers of the district are also faced with an acute shortage of cattle feed. Besides closure of sweet shops and hotels in the district and nearby areas have made matters worse as farmers are not able to supply their dairy products anywhere.
Several farmers of Karandiapatna had taken up dairy farming after a milk production centre was set up in the village 16 years back. While hundreds of farmers in and around the village benefited from the centre, the pandemic has hit them bad with revenues at all time low. Around 5,000 litre of milk from Karandiapatna and nearby villages was collected by the centre daily. But it has stopped now.
Basant Swain, a local recalls the days when hundreds of farmers waited in queue to deposit their milk at the centre which has a chiller. “The centre was set up in 2005 at a cost of `5 lakh to help farmers sell their produce to OMFED. Around 1,200 villagers used to supply milk to the centre from morning till evening until lockdown came into force. Now the farmers are suffering huge losses,” he said. Another farmer Sarat Behera of Patkura said around 10,000 dairy farmers have lost their livelihoods due to the pandemic.
Unit in-charge of OMFED, Kendrapara Chittaranjan Panda said OMFED used to procure 45,000 litre milk from farmers across the district everyday. “However, we have reduced the volume during the lockdown period. We are now collecting 20,000 to 25,000 litre milk per day by paying `30 to `35 per litre to the farmers.”