Hours after the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) hiked price of milk and curd by ₹3 a litre in a bid to provide relief to milk farmers in the State on Monday, the hike was rolled back after a direction from Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. While the current price of ₹37 per litre of toned milk and ₹45 for a kg of curd will remain, the call on increasing the price will be taken after a meeting of the CM with KMF authorities post November 20.
While the decision to raise the price by ₹3 was taken by chairman Balachandra Jharkiholi under pressure from the 15 district milk unions that are facing crisis, Mr. Bommai spoke to him and sought deferring of the change. The new prices were to come into effect from Tuesday. A statement from the Chief Minister’s Office said that the KMF has been directed to defer the price rise, and a decision to this effect would be taken at a meeting to be held after November 20. Mr. Bommai also told presspersons in Sedam that a meeting of officials and milk union representatives will be held before deciding on the hike.
The KMF earlier in a release had said that the entire price rise of ₹3 a litre would be passed on to the milk farmers, who are in distress owing to a steep increase in the input cost, and cattle being affected by Lumpy Skin disease. The hike would have benefitted about a million milk producers – most owning between one and three cows – from whom KMF procures milk. In spite of the hike, the cost of milk would be cheaper in Karnataka compared to the neighbouring States, the KMF had said. It had said while the milk price in Tamil Nadu was ₹40 a litre, the cost of milk per litre in Andhra Pradesh is ₹55 while in Maharashtra and Kerala it is ₹51 and ₹46 respectively.
The latest attempt to hike the consumer price comes nearly two years and ten months after the last hike was effected. Currently, milk producers earn in the range of ₹27 to ₹31 per litre depending on the fat content and the financial strength of the district milk unions in addition to ₹5 per litre given as incentive by the State government.
Though it is a precedent for the KMF to seek the State Government’s nod before hiking the milk price, Monday’s announcement is learnt to have come without an explicit nod. A senior KMF official said that the government is aware of the milk industry’s problem, especially the distress of farmers, and acknowledged that they had not waited for approval.
While multiple representations had been made to the government over the last year to allow the price hike, it had not allowed this since the public was recovering from pandemic-induced economic crisis. Recently, the KMF general body had also passed the resolution to increase the milk price.
KMF sources said that the input cost in milk industry had gone up by more than 30% with the cost of feed alone going up by around 10%. “The hike would have brought some relief to farmers,” they said.
Source : The Hindu 14th Nov 2022