The agitations were held in 14 largest milk-producing districts of northern, western and Marathwada regions of the state with hundreds of farmers taking to the streets, shouting slogans for their demands.
Farmers protested by emptying cans of milk on roadsides, feeding stray animals or offering to temples to draw the state’s attention to their plight, said Milk Producer Farmers Action Committee (MPFAC) Coordinator Ajit Nawale.
“We have written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Dairy Development Minister Sunil Kedar to immediately accept our 8-point demands in the interest of the dairy farmers and the consumers at large,” said All India Kisan Sabha President Ashok Dhawale.
On account of the long pandemic lockdown, the milk farmers are virtually on the verge of starvation along with their cattle owing to unfair or very low remunerative prices for their milk.
“We have demanded hiking the minimum remuneration by Rs 15 for cow milk, sold at Rs.20 now, and buffalo milk sold at Rs.45 currently, to ensure the dairy farmers get better returns and recover their costs,” said Nawale.
The MPFAC has also demanded that the state government should end the exploitation of dairy farmers by the 350-odd big companies selling branded milk products.
“In Gujarat, the state government encourages only ‘Amul’ and Karnataka supports ‘Mahanandi’ But, in Maharashtra, 74 percent of the milk production is bought by the corporates, and the rest 24 percent goes to the traditional milk cooperatives which are now in shambles owing to the politic,” Dr. Nawale said.
The MPFAC has sought a subsidy of Rs.5 per litre to farmers who suffered during the lockdown period, enact suitable laws to prevent the ‘loot’ of the dairy farmers, ensure FRP as per law for milk, share in profits made by the corporates dabbling in the dairy business, legal guarantee to ensure milk is available to consumers at affordable prices.
Referring to the cheating of the milk farmers by faulty milk-meters, the MPFAC seeks all dairy organisations must use only certified milk-meters and appoint independent inspectors to check them on regular basis.
Dhawale said the state government should announce a grant and launch an animal insurance scheme for the dairy farmers for their long-term security.
The protests on Monday a year after a weeklong state-level agitation in August 2020 were carried out simultaneously in Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Beed, Pune, Nashik, Jalgaon, Latur, Osmanabad, Solapur, Parbhani and Nanded, said a Spokesperson P.S. Prasad.