The second wave of Covid-19 has spelt doom for hundreds of women dairy farmers in Jagatsinghpur district who used to sell milk to Odisha State Cooperative Milk Producers Federation (OMFED) for a living.
The OMFED has cut down on the procurement since lockdown began, collecting milk from farmers only on alternate days.
The farmers’ woes have doubled as there are no takers locally also for milk or milk-based products like cheese, ghee and curd with shops remaining closed due to lockdown restrictions forcing them to opt for distress sale.
Sources said, earlier the Cuttack Milk Union – which collects milk from these societies and sends it to OMFED for marketing – used to collect nearly 2.4 lakh litre milk daily but is now only able to collect only 50 per cent of the quota due to the lockdown.
Milk being a perishable item, OMFED’s reduced procurement is leading to substantial losses for women farmers who have no other source of income.
Desperate, these women are now selling milk from door to door at throwaway prices with no option of selling cheese, curd and ghee to local stalls and confectioneries amid lockdown.
A woman farmer Malati Das from Ramchandrapur said, ”Earlier, I used to supply nearly 16 liter milk through the cooperative society but OMFED is now receiving only 7-8 litres on alternate days. The low procurement is affecting my family income.”
Others like Malati said even locals are apprehensive to procure milk products from them due to the Covid situation. “There’s no sale and no income. How do we even afford feed for our cattle. The lockdown is giving us sleepless nights,” they said.
“President of Antodaya Mahila Milk Product Cooperative Society in Salijanga village, Shantilata Dwibedi said,”
The society has 40 women farmers who supply nearly 130 litres milk to OMFED but now only 60 litre is being collected on alternate days forcing most women to sell at way cheaper prices. Lockdown has jeopardised their livelihoods.”
Meanwhile, Manager (laboratory) of OMFED’s Ambasala chilling plant, Ashok Rout admitted to low procurement from farmers during the lockdown.
“Ambasala plant here is receiving 22,000 litre milk on alternate days against the daily target of 40,000 from local farmers,” he added.