First pulses, now milk. The common household is compelled to give up on its easy sources of protein. RAVLEEN KAUR found rise in fodder prices, not rise in demand, is pushing up the cost of milk
High cost of fodder led milk price hike
Birmashri Rathore knows exactly how much water to add to milk so that it can still be accepted as milk.
As the price of this essential commodity shot up across the country over the past two years, so did the level of dilution in the family’s daily milk. Three years ago, Rathore bought two litres every day from the Mother Dairy outlet near her slum cluster in West Delhi’s Vikaspuri area; today she buys only 250 ml, which occasionally goes up to 500 ml. Half the milk is used for making tea which her family of six has twice a day (her husband died five years ago); the rest she mixes with two glasses of water and gives her five children to drink. She does not boil the milk because that reduces the quantity, she said. But her younger children won’t be fooled that easily. “It’s just water, where is the milk?” Kiran, 11, asks her mother.
“For people like us whose monthly income is not more than Rs 1,500-2,000, the budget for milk cannot go beyond Rs 600,” Rathore said; her 17-year-old son, who works in a shoe factory, is the breadwinner of the family.
Between January 2007 and March 2010 the price of milk rose seven times in Delhi. “In the past one year, prices went up from Rs 17 to Rs 22 a litre. First we stopped eating pulses because it became so expensive and now even milk is becoming difficult,” Rathore said. On a year-on-year basis, the inflation in pulses was 32.60 per cent and in milk 21.12 per cent.
“A growing child of 10-15 years of age needs at least 500-750 ml (two glasses) of milk per day while an adult body needs a minimum of 250 ml per day,” said Kumud Khanna, principal of Institute of Home Economics. The government must make milk available for mid-day meal programmes, said Veena Shatrugna, retired from the National Institute of Nutrition in Hyderabad. “If the government can build massive airports, why can’t it subsidize milk?” she asked.
Rising price drove Rathore’s neighbour Guddi and her husband to change their line of business from selling kulfi to selling vegetables. “Time was when we would get about 10 litres of milk every day at Rs 3 per litre. Now, with both sugar and milk prices soaring, there is simply no money to be made by selling kulfi,” Guddi said.
|First we stopped eating pulses, and now milk too is costly|
Mother of five
|The demand for milk is rising with the rise in government salaries, the demand has gone up in rural areas too after NREGA|
|— AMRITA PATEL,
chairperson, National Dairy Development Board
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.