Animal Husbandry

Dairy Industry Severely Hit by Coronavirus Lockdown; Assam Farmers Throwing away Thousands Litres of Milk Daily

Pronami Chetia
Pronami Chetia

While 1.3 billion people are under lockdown, the dairy industry in Assam is facing lots of hurdles which has severely impacted the livelihood of thousands of dairy farmers. Moreover, the farmers are left with no option rather than throwing away thousands litres of milk each day. As per reports, dairy farmers in Jorabat area of Kamrup district are waiting for the state government to ease restrictions and help them out of this crisis. More than that, the dairy farmers are concerned about their cattle falling sick due to feeding shortage, rise in fodder prices, and unavailability of forage amid the nationwide lockdown. 

Although dairy and milk goods, shops selling animal fodder fall under essential services according to home ministry guidelines, but the lockdown has affected their daily routine and transportation of milk to the wholesale markets. 

As per reports, five dairy farmers from Ghanshyam Patti village of Nepali Basti hired a van to travel almost 20 km to Guwahati to sell milk. At least 250 people live in the basti that has 50 dairy farmers. 

Shivlal Sharma, a 42-year-old dairy farmer who cares for 80 jersey cows in his household, “All hotels and restaurants are closed, so wholesalers do not buy milk from us. I brought 120 litres of milk, and managed to sell only 20 litres”. 

Moreover, the farmers are bound to throw away thousands litres of milk each day. Hence, the dairy farmers like Shival Shivlal of Jorabat have requested the government to ensure availability and supply of cattle feed at this time of crisis.  

“We can still throw the milk, but we need to keep the cattle alive. In some farms, cattle are in a critical condition, not able to get up. How will we feed the cows? The fodder was priced at Rs 1,000 before the lockdown, and now it has gone up to Rs 1,300,” said Pradip Ghosh, another dairy farmer from Jorabat. 

“Usually, we milk cows at six in the morning, feed them, clean the barn – but now, we are turning the milk into cream. Till noon, we separate the cream from raw milk. But where will we store it? I have discarded almost 50 to 60 litres of milk today, and the cream will also go waste,” said Ramu Sharma, a 60-year-old dairy farmer who said he'd never seen such times. 

“The commercial dairy farmers have a proper system, they can preserve the milk in big fridges for at least two days,” Sharma added. 

On the other hand, the Sitajakhala Dugdha Utpadak Samabai Samiti Ltd (SJDUSS) in Morigaon district has sought government help to set up a joint venture for producing approximately 15,000 to 20,000 litres of milk and milk products daily. 

During the first two days of lockdown, the dairy farmers of Sitajakhala threw away almost 10,000 litres of milk in the Killing River. Farmers are facing a loss of Rs 12 to 13 lakh every day. 

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