Harsha Raj Gatty
By StoryInfinity for Daijiworld
Mangaluru, Jul 12: Setting a precedence of surplus 'milk' management, Dakshina Kannada Milk Union (DKMUL) on Thursday streamlined 'free' distribution of 1.2 lac litres of its excess milk to its consumers at Dakshina Kannada and Udupi district. The move comes in the backdrop of falling demand for the milk and its allied product alongside increased milk production.
On Thursday, each subscriber and retail outlets of Karnataka Milk Federation's flagship product Nandini received a 180ml packet each of Trupti toned milk. The Ultra-high temperature (UHT) processed milk is said to have a shelf-life for 90 days. "As of now we have introduced the scheme for only one day, but till the end of August we might consider giving away products in a phased manner." Raviraj Hegde, president of DKMUL said.
According to the DKMUL, while on average the milk consumption in the two-districts is around 3.4 lac litres per day, during the off-season this year the co-operative has seen the sales touching the lowest mark of 3 lac litres. "While the production and preservation of milk is consistent and sometime even more at times, but from June to August (rainy season) there are lesser private and public events, subsequently the milk sales are affected," Hegde said.
The district unit with 1.30 lac regular and part-time dairy farmers says that it has already probed various options to distribute milk in the form of alternative products or through channel partners. "We have already launched so many milk related products, and our parlours are also consistently performing. We have also aligned with government scheme like Ksheera Bhagya for milk distribution, yet were not able to dispense the excess or spike the market demand," he says.
Subsequently, bearing the cost of Rs 60 lac on the house, DKMUL decided to come-up with the free distribution scheme. "The idea is let the consumer's directly reap the benefit. For supervision, the co-operative has also deputed internal vigilance team to ensure that the suppliers don't horde the freebies," Hegde says.
On the other hand, the DKMUL has ruled-out the option of lowering the milk procurement quantity or the price. "It will drastically affect the livelihood of the milk-farmers. As it is there is substantial cost involved for the farmer in diary industry," Hegde said.
Depending on the quality of the milk, the farmers at present fetch anywhere between Rs 28 to Rs 31 per litre, besides Rs 5 subsidy from the state government. In tandem with various pro-milk farmer schemes, DKMUL has seen an increase of at-least 5 percent of new dairy farmers joining with it each year.
While DKMUL has expressed interest to subsequent governments to set-up cheese production to redirect excess milk, failure to obtain adequate land from state government has dampened its spirit. "It’s not just us; across the state the Milk Union's are flooded with unmanageable surplus in milk production. With land and an investment of Rs 100 crore, cheese production unit is the way-out. While milk unions can manage the long-term finances from banks, only if they are granted adequate land from the government, without which, thinking of such mega-venture is not possible," Hedge says.
In the next leg prior to August, the DKMUL plans to attach another product as a freebie to offset oversupply of milk production.