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Spiralling operational cost forces dairy farmers to give up ventures

Farmers who ventured into small-scale dairy farming to survive the pandemic-induced financial crisis are slowly withdrawing from the sector unable to generate a steady income owing to skyrocketing operational cost.

Many of them complain that the revenue generated from the sale of milk and milk products is not satisfactory when compared with the actual operational cost involving the prices of fodder and medicines.

A 30 to 35% hike in prices of cattle feed in the last four years has forced farmers to quit the sector. They claimed that ₹37.5 for a litre of milk was hardly a profitable return compared to the rising cost of production.

“Milk collection at local Milma units is declining by the day with small-scale farmers quitting the field. The only option to protect the existing farmers is to revise the price of milk and bring down the price of cattle feed,” said N. Varghese, a dairy farmer from Perambra. He pointed out that no new entrepreneurs were taking up dairy farming as a means of sustainable income with uncertainties prevailing in the sector.

Several Gulf returnees who took up dairy farming projects with the support of various local bodies are also heading to a crisis with a fall in their expected income. Many small-scale units have already been shut unable to bear management cost. The perishing of livestock due to illnesses has also hit a few farmers badly.

“Now, the field is profitable only for farmers who want to domesticate animals for personal use,” said Satheesh Babu, another dairy farmer from Kayanna. He added that the purchase of cattle feed at the existing rate would never be a profitable exercise for farmers as many of them depended on ordinary grass to feed animals.

A farmer who recently shut his small dairy unit said the investment made for setting up hi-tech dairy farms had already doubled the financial liabilities of young entrepreneurs. “The case is almost the same for goat farm owners who are also selling off stock to move on with other profitable business,” he said.

Meanwhile, officials with the Department of Dairy Development pointed out that there were proposals to hike the prices of milk to make it more profitable for farmers. They also said that dairy units would be profitable only for entrepreneurs who were not eyeing quick profits. Also, farmers will have to explore manufacturing value-added products for better income, they add.

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