Bengaluru: The Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) on Monday announced a Rs 3 hike in the per-litre prices of Nandini milk and curd that was to take effect on Tuesday but withdrew the decision after prodding from the chief minister's office.
The KMF cited the increase in processing and maintenance costs in dairy farming in the last two years to announce the hike. Officials said the cost of materials used to prepare cattle fodder had shot up by at least 30 per cent. “By June 2022, we collected close to 94.20 lakh litres of milk a day. But this has come down to 78.80 lakh litres because many small farmers have given up dairy farming due to rising costs," a KMF official said.
Transport, packaging and electricity costs have also shot up by 20 per cent to 35 per cent, the KMF statement said. Lumpy skin disease and adverse weather conditions also added to farmers’ woes, it added, giving reasons for the hike that had been in the pipeline for nearly a year.
A source in the KMF said farmers had demanded a hike of Rs 5 per litre. “With mounting costs, farmers were demanding a Rs 5 hike. Many unions pay farmers Rs 2 to Rs 3 more from their reserve fund so that they don't drop out. The price rise was necessary to prevent losses to farmers and Rs 3 will be given entirely to farmers,” a senior KMF official said.
By Monday evening, however, the hike was put on hold, ostensibly because the government was wary of public backlash with assembly elections just seven months away.
Speaking to reporters in Sedam, Kalaburagi district, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said that a final decision on the milk price hike would be taken after November 20 by convening a meeting of the KMF chairman and senior officials.
Following the chief minister's statement, an official confirmed that the KMF chairman had withdrawn the order.