The festival time is back. This time the new moon will rise from a much darker sky this diwali than before. Would the illumination of diyas and candles be sufficient to cover up the darkness which has been slowly encroaching the lives of millions and millions of victims this year.
The victimization might not have occurred due to the corona virus alone but also due to the following reasons :
a. Loss of jobs b. Lockdowns and almost nil demand from the Horeca sector till now c. Poor prices to the farmers d. Roadblocks in routine farming activities e. Inability of the government to address the issues well in time
Neither its a blame game nor a fictional work to ignite sympathy of any sort. It is just the reality of our nation and our dairy sector today.
Three major elements in Indian dairy economy during Covid may be listed as follows :
a. Milk procurement prices have reduced. b. Consumer prices for dairy products have not changed. c. Huge stocks of dairy commodities have been piled up.
Barring a few companies which are showing growth in their net profits on a quarter to quarter basis due to high demand in value added products, all others are silent.
The government is silent. The industry is silent. The farmers have been silenced.
Who is bothered about the farmers today ?
One week a slight positive sentiment in the dairy commodity wholesale market increases the price of raw milk by 1-2 rupees. Another week a negative sentiment takes it Rs 1-2 down.
Who is tracking the stocks of dairy commodities in the country? What is happening to those stocks? Whether a small state incentive to India’s largest dairy cooperative would be able to solve the problem of plenty or would be requiring more of such aids to other stakeholders? What would happen to the milk prices when more than 60 % of the nation is heading for a milk surplus season? Would the companies build stocks of SMP and Butter in the country again?
Is someone talking about this ? Is the government really keen in finding answers to these questions ?
Everyone is silent.
The UK, France, Germany, Belgium and Greece have become the latest countries to announce second lockdowns. Increased measures have also been announced in Spain and Italy, among others.
The situation in India is also not good. Masses of India have already declared India a Corona free country. You could see them enjoying festive shopping even without using masks and forget about the social distancing. Elections are a bigger festival than Diwali in India and that we can understand. So the government doesn’t seem to spoil the moods of the masses in states under elections and states celebrating diwali. However, as an after effect of these festival celebrations , if India also has to go for a second wave of lockdown then what would be the plight of our dairy industry and our dairy farmers? I don’t think that anyone is really interested in figuring out the same.
That reminds me of one of the quotes by Dr V Kurien when he said that ” India’s place in the sun would come from the partnership between the wisdom of its rural people and the skill of its professionals.”
What a great wisdom Father of Indian dairying exuded at that time.
Let us see what is happening under current reality . Instead of the wisdom of rural people and skill of professionals , we have developed partnerships between the skills of farmers and wisdom of professionals.
In most of the cases the professionals making decisions on policies for the farmers are not sensitised to hunger, poverty and poor conditions in which the famers are surviving today. We need a paradigm shift in the whole of this approach. The latest policy initiative of the government to promote 10000 FPOs in Indian farming eco system might be a silver lining. However the whole process of establishment of such FPOs may take a long time.
Dairy farming as a sustainable option ?
Does our farmer have that kind of time left for survival with dairy farming as an option ? Barring a few cooperatives , most of the dairy companies may not be in a position to support farmers with good prices and other support for a long time till some firm policies by the government to address day to day issues of farmers and other stakeholders is in place.
Time and again on this blog as well as through several other agencies the government has been requested to take some decisions on at least :
a. Supply of milk powder in PDS/mid day meal/ other schemes for clearing the stocks. b. Remove gst from butter and ghee or reduce from 12% to 5 % c. With some available funds if some export subsidy for powder and other dairy products exports could be offered to everyone and not only to the cooperative d. Interest subvention on working capital as well as storage subsidy to everyone holding powder and butter stocks since the first lock down.
Is anyone listening ? Does any association fighting tooth and nail on behalf of the farmers ?
When would any decision in this regard be taken up ? Maybe tomorrow and tomorrow never comes. Whenever it comes , it comes in today. So The future starts today, not tomorrow.
A blog by Kuldeep Sharma on current dairy industry scenario in India