Right price, higher procurement will be the milk shake for ailing Odisha dairy farmers!

The data available with the OUAT shows the total milk procurement works out to be a mere 8 per cent of the total milk production per day.

Bhubaneswar:  Will the State government’s decision to effect a hike in price of milk address the ailing dairy sector?

Though the price hike seems necessary, when the fact is price of milk in Odisha has been the lowest among major states in the country since last August, it’s the higher procurement of milk that will address the illness effectively, feel dairy experts.

As per the data available with the Union Ministry of Food and Consumer Affairs, the average price of milk per litre in Odisha is lowest in the country, except in Shimla and Raiganj (West Bengal). The data with the ministry puts the milk cost in Odisha at around Rs 34 per litre.

In contrast, as local indigenous cows form the majority of the cattle farming in the State, a farmer bears a cost of around Rs 33 per animal per day to produce a litre of milk. If the value of byproducts like dung is imputed from, then the net cost per animal per day works out to be around Rs 29 approximately. When the sale price of around Rs27/litre to milk federations is taken into account, the loss works out to be around Rs1.8/litre, explained a senior OUAT official.

Why then farmers are selling milk at a loss to milk federations? If the rural milk produced was not procured by milk federations, then the price could crash to around Rs 20/litre. The reason: Farmers will then be compelled to sell the milk in their vicinity alone, because it is a perishable commodity, the official expalined.

However, the milk price hike benefits a few. Consider this. The milk production in the State in the year 2001-02 was 9.3 lakh tonne, and the production  in the year 2017-18 had touched 20.88 lakh tonne.

But the milk procurement from the villages during the decades didn’t display the same logic. While in the decade ending in 2000-01, the procurement of milk was 94,000 kg/day, the procurement in 2018-19 was around 8 lakh kg/day.

The data available with the OUAT shows the total milk procurement works out to be a mere 8 per cent of the total milk production per day.

When the demand of milk farmers is to increase the procurement proportion, the State-owned milk federation (OMFED) failed to do so. The reason: Lack of bulk cooler facility even in many milk shed areas, revealed the data.

What’s the way out? Milk unions in Odisha, like in Gujarat, have to be strengthened and empowered financially. This step could help get more private investments in the dairy sector, which would then suffice the OMFED efforts in pegging up the milk procurement, explained the official.