900 litres of milk wasted as Bamul, farmers lock horns

Milk cans pile up outside the KMF milk collection point at Agara village in Kanakapura taluk, Ramanagara district, on Sunday morning after KMF officials refused to collect them. SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

For dairy farmers of a village outside the city who have been prevented from selling their product, there is no such thing as "not crying over spilt milk".  

Since Saturday night, following a dispute with officials of the Karnataka Milk Federation’s (KMF) Bangalore Cooperative Milk Union Ltd (Bamul), dairy farmers at Agara village in Kanakapura taluk said they have been prevented from supplying milk to the Federation.

The result is that cans of milk are piling up outside the local KMF receiving centre which has been closed down, farmers allege, providing DH with photographs of 40-litre cans piling up outside the building. 

“Nearly 900 litres of milk has gone waste because the KMF staff have refused to collect them,” said Choodesh, whose family sells milk to the village collective every day.

With KMF buying out a litre of milk at Rs 24 or 25, the loss of income to farmers here has been considerable. The problem allegedly began late last week when the 100-odd farmers of the village demanded stakeholder status and more transparency in operations at the local KMF milk receiving centre, claimed Shashi, another dairy farmer.

“This dairy collective started 20 years ago, and in all that time, none of us dairy farmers has received any stakeholder status or even an annual report about the milk being generated by the collective. There is no accountability at all,” explained Shashi.

Dairy farmers told this newspaper that although over 100 families supply milk to the federation in this village, only 17 individuals have been accorded the “stakeholder” status by the local KMF collective.

“These individuals are all cronies of the local Bamul officials,” alleged a farmer, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

On Saturday, demands by farmers for stakeholder status prompted a visit by Bamul’s Board of Director for Bengaluru South constituency, H S Harish Kumar, who said that he tried to quell the growing dissension in the community with an open-air meeting.

That meeting, according to farmers, triggered a war of words, resulting in Kumar and other officials leaving the place.

Speaking to DH, Kumar said milk collection has been stopped at the village because the milk lacks fatty content. “Collections will resume once the farmers submit a letter of apology to us,” he added.

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