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Milky way set for dry patch

Trouble seems to be brewing for Jharkhand’s indigenous milk brand Medha with around 2,500-3,000 milk producers threatening to stop supply if the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) is not reinstated soon.

Jharkhand Diary Milk Producers released a communiqué on Sunday, setting a deadline till December 6 for the state animal husbandry department to act. The association members had also raised the matter with Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh during his last visit to Ranchi.

The state had roped in NDDB in 2007 to boost dairy prospects. However, the animal husbandry department showed the door to the board before the end of the term, citing unsatisfactory performance. NDDB, on its part, had rued lack of support from the state and expressed unwillingness to work any further.

Jharkhand Diary Milk Producers has come out in support of NDDB, saying that despite challenges, the agency had done well in Jharkhand. They claim that some officials, who want to bring in private players in the state’s milk market, are mainly responsible for NDDB’s ouster.

“Milk producers were happy with the way NDDB was helping out all, including those based in the remotest of areas. We were earning well. The scene has changed now after NDDB was forced to go out and Jharkhand State Milk Producers’ Co-operative Federation Limited came into the picture,” said Jaiprakash Jaiswal, a Burmu-based milk producer and general secretary of Jharkhand Diary Milk Producers.

He represents the milk producers in Jharkhand State Milk Producers’ Co-operative Federation, which has been formed to run the show now.

Mukul Prasad Singh, assistant director of animal husbandry department, said they had not renewed the contract with NDDB as “everyone felt that it wasn’t doing any good”.

“But if the government feels that it will again rope in the board, we will go with the flow,” he added.

Sources said NDDB chairman Amrita Patel was expected to visit Ranchi on November 28 to discuss the issue.

“First, NDDB was scheduled to sign a new MoU with the state on November 15, which was later pushed to November 25, but it got cancelled. It is tentatively scheduled for November 28, but many aren’t happy. Till things become official, nothing can be said,” said an official.

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