Dairy farmers protest against price cuts

Jul 24, 2018-Dairy farmers in Chitwan have launched a protest against state-owned Dairy Development Corporation (DDC) for slashing milk prices. More than 800 upset farmers gathered at Bakulhar Chok and blocked the highway and distributed milk free of cost to commuters to express their dissatisfaction at DDC’s move.

Dairy cooperatives cut the farmgate milk price by Rs3 per litre after DDC reduced their commission from the beginning of fiscal 2018-19. Earlier, DDC used to pay Rs6.92 per litre as commission to dairy cooperatives.

Ek Narayan Poudel, advisor to the Dairy Farmers and Central Dairy Producers’ Cooperative Union, said they distributed their product free of cost to the general public to attract the attention of authorities.

Earlier, farmers in Rapti Municipality spilled milk on the road at Bhandara. Farmers from Khairahani also dumped milk in Jyamire.

DDC collects milk from around 1,100 dairy cooperatives across the country. It sells 150,000 litres of milk daily. DDC holds a 40 percent market share for milk. Last August, the state-owned enterprise raised the price of milk by Rs4-10 per litre, stating that around 71 percent of the money would go directly to farmers.

The country is experiencing a milk holiday after almost nine years as dairies stopped buying milk from farmers citing excess supply. The glut has been attributed to an increase in the number of milk farmers going into commercial production. It has affected milk producers in almost all parts of the country.

There are 156 dairy cooperatives in Chitwan alone. About 100,000 farmers supply milk to these cooperatives. According to Harihar Subedi, chairman of the District Dairy Producers’ Cooperative, the district produces 250,000 litres of milk daily.

Subedi said farmers were unable to get a reasonable price for their product even during the lean season when supply shrank and demand rose. “If authorities do not address the farmers’ grievances, we will be compelled to launch a sterner protest,” Subedi said.

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