Maharashtra: Dairy Farmers Distribute Milk For Free To Protest Low Minimum Support Price
May 4th, 2018
Image credit: Hindustan Times
Dairy farmers across Maharashtra have launched a week-long protest (May 3 to May 9) against the falling procurement prices of milk by giving free milk for this time period.
At the protest rally, dairy farmers of Aurangabad said, “We have to sell milk at Rs. 17. We had demanded a base price of Rs 50 per litre but the government has fixed the procurement price at Rs 27. We’re running into losses. So in protest, we’ll distribute milk at the collector offices free of cost from May 3-9,” reported NDTV.
Further, according to media reports, the CPI(M)-affiliated Maharashtra Kisan Sabha plans to block milk supplies to cities across Maharashtra, including Mumbai, Thane and Pune if their demands are not met.
Ajit Navale, the state secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha, chief architect of last year’s long March of protest from Nashik to Mumbai, told Hindustan Times, “The government declared the MSP around eight months ago, but farmers are still getting ~17 and incurring losses. Therefore, we have started this agitation. Why is the government stealing from us, it should take milk for free”.
The issue has been brimming since June last year, with the farmers protesting by pouring thousands of litres of milk on the streets across the state, blaming the government for not fixing procurement rates.
After an 11-day long strike, the government fixed a procurement price of Rs 27, which the dairies have since then slashed.
The prices took a fall since the rates of skimmed milk powder exports have become unviable because of a global glut.
Bloomberg Quint reported that the daily creamer is selling at around $1,900 a tonne compared to $2400 a year ago and the peak of $5000 in April 2013.
Also, the Indian Shipments have plunged from 1.4 lakh tonnes in 2013-14 to 16,100 tonnes in 2016-17, according to the Commerce Ministry’s website.
The state government has assured that it’s working out a mechanism to ensure farmers get the Minimum Support Price (MSP). The animal and husbandry minister Mahadev Jankar told Hindustan Times that he was helpless against private milk procuring units that allegedly do not pass on the promised MSP to farmers.
He said, “Private dairies account for 60% of milk procurement in the state. We cannot act against private players as there is a 2003 rule which gave a free hand to them. However, we are trying to change the rule by the next assembly session.”
The Logical Indian take
Minimum support price is crucial in a market where prices regularly fluctuate. Dairy farmers are giving away milk for free than selling at the government’s procurement price – meaning that it’s more profitable for them to distribute milk away for free. The selling price of any product should not only cover the production cost but storage, transportation and labour charges. The government needs to fix a price in tandem with dairy farmers’ expenses.
Also published on Medium.