Maharashtra: Minister hints at major shake-up in dairy sector

The state government is reviewing the freedom given to private dairies and is planning to build a single dairy brand for Maharashtra, on the lines of Amul in Gujarat. The government also intends to make milk cheaper for the end consumer. To that end, the government is considering tweaking the various permissions given to private dairies.

State’s Minister for Cattle and Dairy Development Mahadev Jankar told The Indian Express on Saturday, “In 2011, the then state government had decontrolled the sector and private dairies grew at the expense of cooperative and government dairies. I have asked the law, the judiciary and the general administration department (GAD) to give us their opinion so that we can change the decontrol order.”

The decontrol order, officials said, had allowed private dairies to set up shop without much government intervention. Re-tweaking the government resolution would mean framing rules for the sector. Other than the procurement cost — the cost at which dairies purchase from farmers — the government plans to set limits to handling, transport and processing charges, among others.

Another issue the government wants to address is the vast difference between the procurement prices and the selling prices of milk in the state. At present, cow’s milk, which is sold at the rate of Rs 48-50 per litre, is procured at Rs 22 per litre from farmers. “There seems to be not much logic to this price lag and we want to stop this. If private diaries will not listen to us, we will be forced to take action against them,” he said.

In the name of farmers, Jankar said, dairies have acquired government grants and if they fail to toe the line, they will be stripped of the grants. Maharashtra procures 16 crore litres of milk daily, 65 per cent of it from the private sector and 24 per cent from the cooperative sector. The government dairy, Aarey, barely procures just 1 per cent of the milk. Jankar said within the next six months, he wants to create a single, pan-Maharashtra brand.