KMF's 'milk of kindness' towards schoolchildren

Federation plans to sell milk powder to Education dept to clear stocks

KMF's 'milk of kindness' towards schoolchildren

With its skimmed milk powder (SMP) stock piling up day by day, the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) has proposed to the State government that it provide skimmed milk to students in government schools three days a week across the State.

The KMF, in its proposal submitted to the Primary and Secondary Education department recently, said 150 ml of milk could be provided every day to an estimated 65 lakh students in about 57,000 government schools in the State. Students from class I to X are proposed to be covered under the scheme.

As per the proposal, about 15 gram of milk powder would be enough to prepare 150 ml of milk. The KMF has offered to provide the SMP to the government at Rs 145 per kg. Approximately, the government has to spend about Rs 200 crore per annum if it implemented the proposal, official sources said.

The Federation, which has been embroiled in controversies and scams, has accumulated 15,000 tonnes of SMP worth about Rs 250 crore in the last nine months. With the average shelf life of SMP being one year, the stocks would start reaching the expiry date soon. An average of 120 tonnes of SMP is produced every day. Hence, the Federation is under pressure to dispose of the stock.

The KMF normally sells SMP to milk dairies outside the State, especially in north India. June to August and October to December are two milk production seasons in Karnataka. During these seasons, dairy farmers produce more milk. The production of SMP too is more in these seasons. In north India, the milk production season starts in August.

As a result, KMF normally sells SMP stock during the peak demand period of February to April. However, due to the long-drawn tussle among the board of directors of KMF, the stock was left unsold this year, officials said. The KMF produces about 15,000 tonnes of SMP a year, and sells about 10,000 tonnes to milk dairies in north India.

If the government accepts its proposal to provide skimmed milk to school children, a major portion of the accumulated SMP stock will be taken care of, officials said. The crash in price of SMP has added to the woes of KMF. While the cost for converting milk to SMP is about Rs 160 a kg, the market price has come down to Rs 125 a kg, sources said.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Vishveshwara Hegde Kageri said the proposal had not been brought to his notice yet, while the department secretary G Kumar Naik was not available for comments.

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