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Dairy farmers of Punjab have decided to launch an agitation against the Bhagwant Mann government for what they called were non-redressal of their demands from May 21 onwards. The protests, the farmers said, will start from Punjab villages and then spread outwards.

Daljit Singh Sadarpura, president of Progressive Dairy Farmers Association (PDFA), told mediapersons in Chandigarh that dairy farmers had high hopes and expectations from the present government.

He said that they have been holding meetings with the government, but their main demand of increasing milk prices by providing Rs 7 per kg financial assistance to save the dairy business had not been paid heed to.

Singh said that farmers had played a major role in promoting the dairy business in Punjab, and in making the state dairy-rich. However, the business has been reeling under heavy financial burden for the last four years because milk prices had not been increased at par with the input costs involved.

He added that because of the drop in milk prices during the pandemic, many farmers have become bank defaulters. Feed prices, too, he added had gone up manifold.

The PDFA president said that while the present state government has been focusing on crop diversification and talking about encouraging allied and subsidiary occupations, they had not paid much attention to the dairy industry — which is one of the best alternatives to farming and was allied to farming too.

He said that the current government — that was seeking public suggestions for finalising its budget — should also consider providing financial assistance to the dairy farmers on the lines of other states.

“In Haryana and Rajasthan Rs 5 per kilo, in Bengal Rs 7 per kilo, and in Uttarakhand and Telangana Rs 4 per kilo financial assistance is being provided by the respective state governments to the cooperative dairies,” Sadarpura said, adding that Punjab government should pay a similar assistance to MILKFED so that the farmers cooperatives associated with it get the benefit and come out of the financial crisis.

He demanded that MILKFED increase the rate for dairy farmers by a minimum of Rs 7 per kilo for their survival.

Source : The Indian Express 14th May 2022