The Ernakulam Regional Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union (ERCMPU) has said it will procure the entire quantum of milk produced even if it had to suffer a loss on account of the move. Milk procurement figures prominently in the budget presented by the union on Thursday, which envisages a total outlay of ₹740 crore for the current financial year.
Chairman John Theruvath said the union was committed to the welfare of the dairy farmers attached to the union. He said there were around 933 primary cooperatives and nearly 50,000 farmers, who were supplying around four lakh litres of milk to the union on a daily basis. The sales had reached around 3.65 lakh litres per day. The quantity that could not be sold was being converted into value-added products, he said.
The farmers have been told that the milk cooperative would procure the entire quantity of milk available with them after ensuring the quality of the produce. The cooperative had suffered some financial losses in procuring the entire quantity of milk from farmers in the wake of the second COVID-19 wave, added Mr. Theruvath.
The regional cooperative approved a budget outlay of ₹739.04 crore for the current financial year. The incentives being offered to the farmers included disbursal of ₹18 lakh for ensuring quality of the milk being procured, said Mr. Theruvath.
He said the cooperative also wanted to encourage NRIs, who had returned from their jobs abroad in the wake of the pandemic.
The Ernakulam region comprises the districts of Ernakulam, Kottayam, Idukki and Thrissur. The cooperative had set aside money in the budget for expanding its online presence and reaching milk and milk products to all the families in the region, he added. More value-added products as well as better reach in the rural areas are part of the plan by the milk cooperative.
The cooperative budget has also set aside ₹4.47 crore for contribution to the dairy farmers’ welfare fund and ₹1.06 crore for cattle feed stabilisation fund. Funds have also been earmarked for dairy farmers’ insurance as well as measures to control diseases among milch animals. A total of over ₹5 crore had been set aside for providing subsidies for milk containers, rubber mats and training programmes, he added. One of the most significant allocations is for expanding infrastructure in the dairy sector. A total of ₹34.23 crore has been earmarked for the purpose.