Dairy farmers are up in arms again, seeking an increase in the price of milk and a ban on cattle feed containing chemical ingredients.
The farmers, under the aegis of the Kerala Aggressive Dairy Farmers’ Association, took out a protest here on Tuesday, parading milch cows and milking them at Mullakkal on the main thoroughfare, only to pour it out onto the street. A ceremonial ‘abhisheka’ for the deities and a symbolic cleansing of the mindset of the authorities by sprinkling the surroundings with a solution made of cow dung were part of the protest demonstrations. Dairy farmers are unable to make both ends meet, says Gino G. Maliyakal, general secretary of the association. The cattle feed prices have been steeply hiked in recent months with no proportional rise in the milk price. The prices of cattle feed have gone up by 60 per cent in the past 6 months, according to him. The association is bent on making it a poll issue, he says, hinting at more protests to highlight the plight of dairy farmers.
No regular quality checks
One of the main issues in the dairy sector in Kerala is the import of milk from neighbouring States. The quality check on milk is done only when required and not on a regular basis, Mr. Gino says. Milk powder being mixed with milk, an accepted practice among milk marketing companies including Milma in Kerala, is an unhealthy practice, according to him.
He also alleges that the FSSAI has facilitated the practice by fixing the standards on fat content and SNF above normal levels. Milk of indigenous cows can never match the standards, he says. The cows of modern breeds survive on unnatural cattle feed containing urea which is harmful both for the cattle as well as those who consume milk.
He contends that one of the popular brands of cattle feed made in the private sector in Kerala has excess urea content. The association has boycotted the brand and has asked the government to curb its sale.
One of the main demands of the association is setting up of a regulatory commission in the dairy sector to streamline issues pertaining to prices of milk and cattle feed, ingredients of cattle feed and standards on fat and SNF in milk. The Central government’s policy allowing multinational companies to import milk from foreign countries has also done much harm to the domestic sector. Earlier, import was allowed only on milk products.
The previous Congress-led government at the Centre had lifted the curbs, facilitating direct import of milk, he says.
Dairy farmers organise protest with milch cows demanding price hike, ban on cattle feed containing urea.