Helping Farmers During Lockdown Requires Multilateral Approaches

India is the world’s largest producer and consumer of dairy products with a sustainable growth of 6% per anum. Dairying is the top-ranking commodity in India which is almost equal to the combined output value of paddy and wheat together. About two-thirds of rural incomes are dependent on dairy. Small and marginal farmers are the main player of the dairy industry. Dairy is part of their farming system and 70% of cattle and buffalo are owned by these farmers. Dairy provides a source of regular income to them throughout the year.

During the lockdown in the country, the milk supply chain has been disrupted and these small and marginal dairy farmers are facing problems in selling the milk and milk products. There is less demand by the consumers also. Milk demand has been further reduced significantly following the closure of hotel industries, restaurants sweet and grocery shops. In comparison to other agricultural commodities, the dairy products are highly perishable and can’t be stored like grains or can’t be frozen like meat. In villages, the situations are more serious because like commercial dairy owners, they can’t preserve milk in big chillers for atleast 2-3 days.

In addition, there is acute shortage of cattle feed and fodder due to lockdown of the transport system. There are reports from different parts of the country, in media, that due to hardship, the dairy farmers are forced to sell the milk at lower prices or even throwing milk on roads which are adversely affecting their income.

There are following suggestions to help these farmers

1. Government to strengthen supply chain
2. Strengthen the payment system to farmers on MSP
3. Creation of awareness among farmers through KVKs or state dept system about value addition.
4. The farmers be advised to make ghee from milk. The ghee can be stored for a long time due to its more shelf life and can be sold when normalcy regain.
5. Instead of discarding milk on roads, the farmer be advised to feed the milk, along with feed to the animal. Two litter of milk can be added with 10 kg of feed/ fodder.

Prof KML Pathak

Vice-Chancellor, DUVASU, Mathura, U.P.