The price of milk in Haryana, in the past few years, has increased multiple times within months. This statement may give the assumption that the state’s dairy farming industry must be gaining much profit due to the frequent rise in milk prices. On the ground however, there’s a different picture. The dairy farmers are struggling in rearing cattle and providing for their families. It seems that the dairy farmers are not getting the better end of the deal.
There are a number of challenges faced by dairy farmers today than they had faced a few decades ago. With the rise in industrialisation in Haryana, there is a tremendous reduction of grazing land. Along with this, today, villagers with even a small piece of land have begun cultivating crops. This has subsequently resulted in dairy farmers having to buy fodder from the market instead of getting it for free from the grazing fields. Another challenge the dairy farmers face is the frequent increase in diesel and petroleum prices, which has also increased the cost of transportation of milk and cattle. These problems have consequently increased the price of rearing and keeping cattle for the farmers.
Another issue for dairy farmers is the winter season. Haryana experiences considerably low temperatures in the winter months between December and February. During these months, the animals have been found to be suffering from ill health like pneumonia and fever. This also affects their milk production. Dairy farmers, therefore, cannot sell enough during these months. According to a recent news report, dairy farmers get Rs. 4 extra when there is a milk shortage. But, is this enough for their sustenance? Also, surplus milk never gets them any extra money!
The price of milk is regulated and fixed by cooperative milk societies in Haryana, who use the fat percentage in milk to set the price. According to a report, in 2013 buffalo milk, which has higher fat content, could fetch around Rs. 28 to Rs. 30 per litre, and cow’s milk with lower fat content could be sold at Rs. 22 to Rs. 25 per litre. The milk, after processing, costs more than double when it finally reaches the market to the consumers. So, are dairy farmers in Haryana getting the right price for their milk? Are the cooperative societies getting a better deal by buying milk at cheaper rates and selling at higher rates?
The Haryana government has been providing subsidies for electricity, water, etc. to the dairy farmers, in order to help the dairy industry. This however, still does not solve the multiple issues faced by the dairy farmers. The need for the government is to closely and regularly monitor the selling price of milk and the cost of maintaining a dairy farm. If required the government needs to curtail the cooperatives’ monopoly over regulating milk prices.
Fixing the right price for milk is urgently required for dairy farmers to have a profitable dairy business. This could help them modernise dairy production and cattle rearing, and help buy more cattle. Eventually the right milk price can allow the dairy farmers of Haryana to have decent earnings and a better life.