| People collect milk from a vendor. Picture by UB Photos |
Dec. 2: Homemaker Malti Sarma (name changed) was already on a short fuse this morning because she had not received her daily dose of newspapers — she subscribes to four — for the second consecutive day. So when the milkman dropped the Rs 42-per-litre price bomb, she did not require much to lose it altogether.
“We have been purchasing milk from our milkman at Rs 32. But today he said the price has increased to Rs 42. How can the price of an essential item like milk increase by Rs 10 overnight? If this continues, we would have no option but give up buying milk and move over to packaged milk instead,” Sarma said.
After the Brihattar Gauhati Go Palak Sanstha increased the market price of milk to a steep Rs 42 today, many customers are in a dilemma whether to make their morning cup of tea with regular milk or the packaged variety.
The price of milk at the site of production had increased from Rs 33 to Rs 39 from December 1. The dairy farmers raised the price citing rising cost of inputs like cattle feed and transportation.
But since retailers are not ready to purchase milk from dairy farmers at Rs 39, the organisation has decided to sell milk to customers directly at Rs 42.
“The milk we purchase from the milkman is not always of good quality as many mix water to increase their profit margins. With the price increasing to Rs 42 per litre, common people may have to give up drinking milk. It is better to purchase toned milk from the market though it costs more. It is very dense in quality and can be stored for days in the refrigerator,” said Neema Das, another homemaker living in Rukminigaon.
Even sweet shops are planning to increase prices after the latest milk price jolt. “If we have to purchase a litre of milk at Rs 42, then we will definitely increase the price of sweets,” said a sweet shop vendor in Bhangagarh.
At present, there are about 6,000 dairy farmers in and around Guwahati and each of them have close to 20 cows. The dairy farms produce about one lakh litres of milk daily. But the numerous restaurants and sweet shops here buy the bulk of the milk and only about 20 per cent of the quantity reaches homes.
This is because the unprocessed milk is usually used for the preparation of sweets, which cannot be prepared with packaged milk.
On the other hand, the organisation said the price is not final and they may reduce it if they receive any assistance from the state government by way of subsidy on input. “We will wait for a response from the government for 15 days and also monitor the market situation. If we get any assistance, we will reduce the price,” said Mridupaban Baishya, adviser to the organisation.