Dairy farmers complain about receiving low prices for milk

- BIPLAV BHATTARAI, CHANDRA KARKI, ILAM/TERHATHUM
Dairy farmers complain about receiving low prices for milk

Feb 5, 2015-

Dairy farmers in Ilam and Terhathum districts have complained that they are getting paid little for their milk while dairy cooperatives have been pocketing most of the money received from sales to dairy plants.

Dairy Development Corporation (DDC) had recently raised the price that farmers would be paid, but they said that most of the increment was not reaching them as it was being absorbed midway in the supply chain.

More than 55,000 farmers in Ilam district are reported to be engaged in producing milk. However, most of them earn just enough to lead a hand-to-mouth existence. Even though the region has been producing more milk annually, a large number of farmers have not been able to get good returns compared to the capital they have invested. Netra Rijal, a farmer from Suluwung, said the price they were being paid was not sufficient to recover the cost of high breed dairy cattle that cost more than Rs 100,000 per head. Chudamadi Bhattarai, another farmer from Maimajhuwa-1, Yangma, who gave up his job to take up dairy farming, said he purchased a high breed cow for Rs 122,000. “However, the output yields low returns,” he said.

However, cooperatives deny accusations that they have been overcharging customers and underpaying dairy farmers. “Even though we have got some relief from the higher prices, it is not enough to pay the costs of dairy cattle, animal feed and medicines and the salaries of workers,” said Durga Prasad Khatiwada, manager of Bhawani Dairy Cooperative of Suryodaya Municipality. Following the increase in prices by DDC, cooperatives have raised the payment to farmers to Rs 32-35 per litre from Rs 28-30 per litre. However, dairy farmers have complained that they have to pay extra fees in

the name of TS charge to

the concerned cooperatives which is calculated on the basis of the fat and SNF content in the milk.

Meanwhile, local farmers have launched efforts to set up their own milk processing plants as they have not been getting adequate returns from DDC. There are 112 dairies in the district. Each firm produces 50-500 litres of milk daily. Home-based dairies have also proliferated in recent days.

Farmers said they had experienced relief to some extent as their dairy products were being exported to the US. There are 24 cheese factories and nine lollipop factories in the region. According to farmers, the processing plants they set up have helped to increase employment opportunities besides raising their incomes.  

As per the District Animal Service Office, Ilam district produces 336,000 litres of milk daily. Of the total output, around 200,000 litres is sold in the market and a large portion of this goes to local factories.

Meanwhile, farmers in Terhathum district have also complained that they have not been getting good prices for their milk from dairy cooperatives. According to them, they are forced to sell their products to the cooperatives since they would not be able to sell all their output on their own.

The farmers said that the cooperatives receive only Rs 34.36 per litre of milk while consumers pay Rs 40-45. Kamal Khadka, chairman of the Commercial Cow-Farming Implementation Committee in Fulek, said that farmers were having a hard time as they were being paid little for their milk.

 

Published: 06-02-2015 10:57

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