Farmers plan Vidhana Soudha march

 The Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha on Saturday said milk farmers would march from the City’s Freedom Park to the Vidhana Soudha on January 21 to submit a memorandum of their demands to Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar.

Briefing reporters, Sangha general secretary Byrareddy said the government could help the farmers by undertaking to supply 150ml of milk per student in government schools as well as anganwadis, resulting in procurement of 20-lakh litres of milk per day.

According to him, if the government spent around Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 crore annually on milk procurement and improved marketing facilities to make use of the glut in milk production, it could result in alleviating the distress of nearly 22 lakh families singularly dependent on dairy farming in the State.

Currently, he said, the government spends a measly Rs 2 as incentive to the farmer, resulting in an expenditure of Rs 1.20 crore a day.

Byrareddy pointed out that for every litre of milk converted into powder, the Karnataka Milk Federation suffered a loss of Rs 7-8, as, due to lack of proper machinery, the federation sends the milk to Ongole in Andhra Pradesh and Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu for conversion into powder. He further claimed that nearly Rs 250 crore worth of milk powder was lying in godowns.

One other suggestion he threw up was that excess milk could be converted into cheese as there was a good market for the product. Citing the example of Amul, he said, at least 10 to 15 lakh litres of milk could be converted into cheese. Should some of these suggestions be implemented, he claimed that the Karnataka Milk Federation, presently under pressure to increase milk procurement price, may need not have to do so.

On an average, 13 milk unions are giving Rs 17.50 per litre as procurment price from farmers. Milk unions get Rs 8-9 per litre, which the Karnataka Milk Federation says is meeting the adminsitration expenses.
There was a huge margin, but because of several loopholes, irregularities and corruption, this was not be properly realised, Byrareddy said.

The government, by improving the efficiency in the system, could increase the procurement price without increasing the milk price, he added.

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