COVID-19: Dip in milk sales leave 1.5 million farmers in the lurch in Odisha

Several milk purchasing firms have either stopped lifting milk products or reduced the share of products they used to buy following a two-week lockdown in the state  

By Hrusikesh Mohanty
Published: Thursday 13 May 2021

A two-week lockdown in Odisha has left as many as 1.5 million milk farmers in the lurch. The lockdown, imposed on May 5, 2021 to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, has led to a sharp dip in the procurement of milk by dairy firms and hoteliers.

Several milk purchasing firms have either stopped lifting the products or reduced the share of products they used to buy.

The Odisha State Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation Limited (OMFED) — apex body of the milk producers and other cooperative unions and backed by the state government — is among the major milk procurement agencies in the state. A cut in procurement from their side leads to a major disruption in the market.

OMFED restricted milk procurement May 9 onwards, due to a decline in demand. OMFED sources said it used to procure about 5.45 lakh litre a day from farmers before the lockdown. This has come down to 3.75-2 lakh litres a day during the lockdown.

Odisha Milk Farmers Association (OMFA) president, Rabi Behera, said OMFED’s decision to reduce the procurement of milk has hit thousands of dairy farmers. “The state government should provide at least five kilogram of fodder and animal feed for each livestock population and at least Rs 5,000 in assistance to all milk farmers for two months,” he said.

W Sarathi from Ganjam district owns around 100 buffaloes, which produce about 150 litres of milk every day. In addition to supplying milk to hotels, he also makes paneer. But the number of buyers has diminished. Some people have been refraining from buying dairy products due to the fear of catching the virus, he said.

Former finance minister of the state, Panchanan Kanungo, urged OMFED authorities to procure more milk to help farmers instead of cutting down the purchase, which would eventually prompt them to resort to distressed sale of the products. With the procured milk, the OMFED should make the ghee, which can be preserved for a longer period, said Kanungo.

Milk production in the state was around 2,370,000 tonnes in 2019-20, according to Odisha’s Economic Survey-2020-21.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :
Related Stories

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.