Demanding an increase in the per litre price of milk for dairy farmers, the Left-affiliated All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has alleged that milk farmers were given a raw deal by private and co-operative milk unions who cut costs by claiming a low demand for milk during the pandemic-induced lockdown.
The AIKS has said that private and co-operative 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 has planned a Maharashtra-wide agitation on June 17.
It has demanded that farmers be given the pre-lockdown rates of ₹35 per litre. “We demand that the State government audit all private and co-operative milk unions, which have reduced the purchase price of milk, claiming that the demand for milk has decreased during the lockdown period. It must take stern action against these cooperatives and recover the amount looted by them and return it back to the farmers,” said Dr. Ajit Nawale of the AIKS.
He urged the government to make the anti-looting law applicable to private and co-operative milk unions so that milk producers could not be looted in future. “Like sugarcane growers, milk producers, too, should be given fair and remunerative price (FRP),” said Dr. Nawale.
In their list of demands to the State government, the AIKS has urged the government to adopt a one-brand strategy to prevent undesirable ‘brand wars’ in which ordinary milk farmers always lost out.
“The government should also ban toned milk and ensure that adulteration is stopped by strictly enforcing anti-adulteration laws. They must provide legal guarantees that pure milk will be available to consumers at reasonable prices,” said Dr. Nawale.