At a time when the country’s agriculture sector is facing a severe crisis, the dairy sector has survived the slowdown and witnessed positive changes, said Minister for Rural Development K C Joseph here on Sunday.
Speaking after inaugurating the refurbished dairy processing unit of Milma at Edappally here on Sunday, the Minister said, “when the UDF Government came into power five years ago, Kerala was dependant on the other states to overcome the 7.5-lakh-litre milk deficiency. Now, we procure only 1.5 lakh litre of milk from the neighbouring states, which shows that we are moving towards self- sufficiency. Kerala’s dairy sector recorded the biggest annual growth in the country.”
“Meanwhile, prices of diary products increased only three times during the tenure of the current government, and dairy farmers were the beneficiaries of the price hike. Last year, the State’s dairy sector witnessed a 34 per cent growth. We hope that the State would produce as much milk as it requires by 2016-end,” said the Minister, adding that the pension of dairy farmers was hiked to Rs 300 from Rs 100 three years ago. We will submit a recommendation to the Chief Minister to raise the pension to Rs 1,000/month,” he added. Meanwhile, National Diary Development Board chairman T Nandakumar said that farmers should concentrate more on value-added products for the diary sector to register bigger growth. “It is necessary to convert at least 25 per cent of the milk produced here into value-added products. Milma should continue as an organisation functioning under diary farmers,” he added. Banana Jaggery icecream, one of the new products launched by Milma, was unveiled on the occasion. A new icecream parlour was opened at the revamped plant.
Dairy Development Director K T Sarojini, Kalamassery municipal chairperson Jessy Peter and Milma, Thiruvananthapuram unit, chairman Kallada Ramesh, among others, also attended the function.