Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar

Mumbai: In a bid to provide relief to the farmers during the lockdown because of the coronavirus outbreak, the Maharashtra government will daily procure excess 10 lakh litre milk from farmers at Rs 25 per litre when the rate for milk procurement by private agencies has sharply fallen to Rs 15 to 17 per litre. The milk procurement will begin in the next four to five days and will continue for another two months.

This was announced by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar with an allocation of Rs 200 crore for the same. Pawar, who chaired a meeting to discuss the present milk procurement and supply during the lockdown, said the dip in prices have adversely affected farmers.

Therefore, the decision was taken to procure a surplus of 10 lakh litres, which will be converted into powder. This scheme will be implemented through the state milk federation and the sale of milk powder will be done online.

Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, who was accompanied by Minister of Dairy Development Sunil Kedar, said the government will daily produce powder from the 10 lakh litres of milk procured from farmers.

The government's decision is crucial, as it received reports that there is excess milk collection in Pune, Baramati, Ahmednagar, Satara, Solapur, Osmanabad and Aurangabad. However, due to lockdown, the consumer milk and milk products availability in the market have drastically reduced.

The government also received feedback from the district milk federations that the situation will continue for three weeks to one month and they argued that the surplus milk should be converted to products that have a long-lasting shelf life mainly skim milk powder.

"Surplus milk will be purchased through district and taluka federations by the government and not from other private sources.

This is because the state-run Mahananda has an excess drying capacity of 5 lakh litres per day, while other cooperatives also have facilities to convert milk into powder,’’ said an officer from the dairy development department. This decision will help farmers save Rs 600 crores over two months.

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