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Dear milk goes dearer

Cousins Sudha and Medha are giving a hard time to Jharkhand homemakers, who are already struggling to manage their kitchen budgets in view of the rising vegetable prices and inflation.

Sudha Dairy — the brand under which packaged pasteurised milk is to Jharkhand by Patna-headquartered Bihar State Co-operative Milk Producers Federation Limited (Comfed), raised prices of milk by Rs 2 a litre and Rs 1 half a litre from Wednesday.

Milk products have also become dearer (see box).

Jharkhand’s own brand of milk and milk products, Medha Dairy, is also contemplating to increase prices, which, like the Sudha hike, would be the second in this year.

Currently, a litre of toned Medha milk comes for Rs 30 and standard milk Rs 34.

According to officials of Sudha Dairy, which enjoys a market share of 55 per cent in Jharkhand, significant increase in prices of cattle feed and fodder compelled them to effect a hike. “Cattle feed and fodder expenditures constitute the bulk (almost 75 per cent) of the total cost of milk production. We have already increased payment to milk producers by Rs 2.46 per litre from December 1 to help them cope with increased spending,” assistant general manager (marketing), Comfed, Rajiv Verma told The Telegraph over phone from Patna.

He also made it clear that the price hike was not a result of increase in fuel costs.

Sudha Dairy supplies nearly 3.5 lakh litres of milk to Jharkhand.

But if homemakers are planning to bank on Medha milk from now on, they should not raise their hopes too high. State animal husbandry deputy director Mukul Prasad said on Wednesday they were also set for a price hike soon.

“We are sending a proposal to the state dairy board. The hike will be similar to that of Sudha,” said Prasad, who also happens to be the director of Jharkhand State Milk Producers’ Co-operative Federation, which was floated a few months ago on the lines of Bihar’s Comfed.

The hike is expected to be announced in a week.

The residents are obviously unhappy.

“Just when we were hoping for some relief as prices of onions and potatoes are on the slide, the hike in milk prices will take us back to square one,” said Sangeeta Sharma, a 38-year-old homemaker of Kasidih, Jamshedpur.

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