Nashik/Kolhapur: More than a month after the state government announced that it would pay dairies to convert excess milk into powder and butter, the implementation remains slow. After a huge drop in demand due to the lockdown, the Maharashtra government set aside around Rs 128 crore to pay the dairies through the state-run Mahanand Dairy. The government made it mandatory for diaries to pay farmers at least Rs 25 per litre of milk. Many dairies fear their business will be hit if the government does not pay them soon. There are about 25 dairies in Maharashtra that are converting their excess milk stock into milk powder.
Dashrath Mane, chairman of Sonai Dairy in Pune, one of the largest producers of milk powder, said that for the past two months, they have been making about 150 tonne of milk powder per day, almost double the quantity the usually make.
Gokul co-operative dairy, the largest dairy in the south Maharashtra region, is paying farmers Rs 27 per litre per litre for the milk supplied. In the past 38 days, they have converted about 1.25 lakh litre of excess milk to milk powder and butter every day.
Gokul dairy’s chairman Ravindra Apte said, “We are hoping the conversion charges are paid as soon as possible. We already have large amounts of milk powder lying with us. A total bill of Rs 1.07 crore has been issued.”
Sharad Avhad, the owner of Healthy Food, a dairy product producer in Nashik, said they were paying Rs 32 per litre to the farmers in March, but can now pay between Rs 20 and Rs 26 per litre.
S N Sharma, general manager of S R Thorat Milk Products (Gagangiri dairy products) in Sangamner, said though they are making 5 tonne of milk powder per day, there is no demand. Sources in the dairy industry said 1 kg of milk powder is sold for Rs 250.
“Accumulation of milk powder may burden the dairies, who are reluctant to buy more milk from the farmers,” he said.
Ranjit Deshmukh, chairman of Mahanand Dairy, said about 1.80 crore litre of excess milk has been procured so far. Around 1,500 tonne of milk powder and 800 tonne of butter have been prepared. The state government has limited the procurement of excess milk to 4 crore litre, for which, Rs 127 crore has been set aside to pay the farmers. The scheme has a deadline of May 31.
“The cooperative and some private dairies have been asked to submit data of the farmers who have received Rs 25 per litre from them. Based on the data, the disbursement to the dairies will start,” he said. Vijay Waghole, general manager, Warana Milk and Milk Products, Sinnar, said they were making 60% more milk powder every day. “Milk powder can be stocked for a year. We hope to get buyers once the lockdown is lifted,” he said.