Some of them are shifting to private firms
Farmers who sell the milk to the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) say they are being paid less than what they should be paid.
Hanumantappa, 70, a dairy farmer in Kenchanapalya, said he sold two cows a few years ago and now only sells the milk of one cow to KMF. “We cried after selling our cows.”
He sells four litres of milk. His wife Narasamma works the whole day taking care of the cow, but theyearn no profit by selling her milk for Rs 31 to Rs 35 a litre, depending on the thickness.
Those who sell milk to private companies like Dodla get Rs 40 to Rs 60 a litre. Hanumantappasaid he earns no profit and cannot switch to private companies as he has been selling milk to KMF for a long time.
He buys groundnut cake for Rs 1,400 every two months for his cow to make the milk thick enough to pass the fat test set by KMF. He also spends on fodder and treatment of the cow.
Chandrappa, another dairy farmer, said they should get a bonus to help them meet the expenses of cattle rearing. “We have five cows but we still don’t earn enough profit. All the money goes into taking care of them. Sometimes we get Rs 23, sometimes Rs 32, depending on the fat content in the milk.”
Hanumanth, a middleman in milkdistribution, said farmers are paid Rs 29 a litre which is too less. “They should at least pay Rs 32 per litre.” After spending around Rs 30,000 on fodder and proteins, farmers only earn Rs 10,000 a month.
The price of milk is calculated on its thickness.
Shivakumar, a dairy farmer with four cows, said he is happy with the price he gets. He sells one litre for Rs 32 as the milk is thick.
Jagadeesh BN, an assistant manager at theKMF’s Mandya unit, said: “Milk is the primary demand of every household. We need refrigerators and have to bear transport costs, GST, employee costs, and still we don’t work for profit because it’s a co-operative. Nandini milk is cheaper than that of Dodla, Heritage, Arokya, and Tirumala.
In the private market, it’s a monopoly but in a co-operative, we have to think about everyone, he said.
Farmers are demanding that the procurement price, now Rs 31, be raised. Most are shifting to private dairies because they have a higher procurement price than KMF’s.
Swamy Gowda, owner of Swamy’s Nandini, saidfarmers in his village, paid Rs 26 by KMF, are shifting to private milk dairies because they give them a higher price.Dodla pays farmers around Rs 40 and sells it for Rs 55. Now that private companies have raised their prices, people are shifting to Nandini, increasing its demand.
“Earlier, I used to sell 1,400 litres every day. Now the demand has risen to 600 litres and the distributors are not able to match this demand. They should increase Nandini price and pay farmers a higher price,” he said.
In November 2022, KMF raised Nandini price by Rs 2. Rajesh, a regular customer of Nandini milk, said: “It’s OK if they have raised the price.Even petrol price is high, but we won’t stop buying petrol. In Bengaluru, only Nandini suits us.”
KMF has 13 units and is the second largest co-operative in India, after Amul.
The supply in summer decreases because it is a lean season from January to June. Cows and buffaloes produce more milk in the flush season (July to December).
A technical officer at the National Dairy Research Institute who did not want to be named said in summer, green fodder is not available to cows, so they don’t eat much and resultantly give less milk. In the rainy season, green fodder is plenty, so cows eat a lot of green fodder and produce more milk.
The Observer tried to contact BAMUL and KMF, but the officials were busy in board meetings and recruitment processes.
According to a report in The New Indian Express, the KMF is seeing an increase in demand for milk, but facing a shortage in supplies. KMF officials said that as summer is starting, the demand for milk has increased by 15-20 per cent across the state and by 17 per cent in Bengaluru. Supply has declined as farmers are busy harvesting their crops. KMF is offering incentives to farmers to ensure continued supplies.