The sale of dairy-based products like cheese, ghee and curd also dipped considerably with shops remaining closed and lockdown restrictions forced distress sale, several dairy farmers said.
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Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik said dairy farming was important for rural economy and helped small and marginal farmers. (Arabinda Mahapatra)

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday announced a Covid assistance package totalling ₹11 crore for 120,000 dairy farmers, registered under Odisha State Cooperative Milk Producers Federation (OMFED), the biggest milk procurement body in the state. Every farmer will be given a maximum of ₹6,000 under the scheme to buy fodder.

Patnaik said while almost all other sectors of the economy were in a state of turmoil, only agriculture and allied sectors were keeping the economy afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the state-wide lockdown amid the second wave of Covid-19, dairy farmers were hit hard when OMFED, the top body of milk producers and other cooperative unions in the state, cut down milk procurement from about 5.45 lakh litre a day to 2-3.75 lakh litres a day during the lockdown citing low demand.

The sale of dairy-based products like cheese, ghee and curd also dipped considerably with shops remaining closed and lockdown restrictions forced distress sale, several dairy farmers said.

“Dairy farming plays an important role in the rural economy and is especially helpful in the livelihoods of small and marginal farmers. A large decline in the demand for milk and dairy products due to the Covid pandemic has seriously affected the livelihoods of dairy farmers,” Patnaik said, explaining the rationale behind the assistance package.

Fergal Rudden returned to farming from working in the furniture industry and began milking in 2015 with 25 cows before tripling numbers four years later.

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