"Lockdown due to COVID-19 has reduced the demand for milk drastically, following which the private companies are procuring milk for just Rs 15 per litre from farmers. The price is just 50 per cent of what used to be paid before the lockdown," said SA Ponnusamy, State president, Tamil Nadu Milk Agents, Workers Welfare Association.
Ever since lockdown was imposed, tea shops, restaurants and hotels, which buy milk in large quantities, were forced to close down. Though they were reopened in phased manner, the demand for milk had not increased as the fear of visiting public places still haunts people’s minds. Citing this, private companies are forcing the dairy farmers to sell milk at low prices. "Left with no other choice, farmers sell milk at the base price without any profit, thinking that though meagre, the amount will be helpful to at least feed their cattle," said Ponnusamy.
Farmers said they are facing the problem of low procurement price also with Aavin. "Though Aavin has sanctioned Rs 32 per litre of cow's milk, Aavin officials give only Rs 22 to Rs 25 per litre to farmers as the procurement price in many districts. The farmers have no option other than selling the milk to the cooperatives," alleged a farmer from Salem district requesting anonymity.
The farmer added that procurement price issue would be solved only when the State government allows all tea shops, restaurants and hotels to reopen – but without time regulations for people to visit freely at the time they wish.