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Milk dearer by Rs 2 a litre

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 13: A litre of milk will cost Rs 2 more from Saturday.

The Odisha State Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation Limited (Omfed), which has the majority stake in the state’s milk market, made this announcement today.

While this is certain to make dairy farmers happy, the common people, who cannot do without their morning cup of tea with a liberal dose of milk, have flayed the decision.

After the hike, the price of a litre of toned milk will be Rs 30, while that of double toned milk will be Rs 28. Officials in Omfed said that the extra money would go directly to the farmers.

“The decision to hike the milk price was taken in view of the long standing demand of the dairy farmers. Milk producers in our state are getting very less returns as compared to their counterparts in other states. The benefit of the hike will go to them directly,” chairman-cum-managing director Sanjay Rastogi said.

Sources said the farmers now a minimum of Rs 20.5 a litre but after the hike, they would get Rs 22.5. Officials said consumers would get milk at the new prices instead of the printed rate till the old polythene packets lying with Omfed were exhausted.

Omfed had increased milk prices by Rs 2 a litre a year. Before that, milk prices had been hiked by Rs 2 a litre in September 2012.

Today’s hike is the third in one-and-a-half years during which the prices have gone up by Rs 6 a litre. Before 2012, milk prices had been hiked by Rs 2 a litre in October 2011 and January 2010.

“This hike will cost us between Rs 100 and Rs 200 a month,” said Sakuntala Baliarsingh, a homemaker from Baramunda.

Tea lovers will also bear the brunt of this hike. A cup of tea that used to cost between Rs 2 and Rs 3 two years ago is now worth Rs 5. “The shopkeepers had then blamed it on the milk price hike. Now they will raise the price again,” said Anurag Nanda, a government employee who drinks around 10 cups of tea a day.

However, some tea shop owners said they would rather sell tea in smaller cups than hike the cost per cup.

The milk farmers are happy with the price hike, but said it should have been increased by Rs 2 more a litre. Omfed is the major player in the distribution of milk and controls nearly 45 per cent of the market share in the state. It sells nearly 4.50 lakh litres of milk a day. More than 2.81 lakh farmers are registered with Omfed.

Bidyadhar Sahoo, general manager of Cuttack District Milk Union, said the farmers spent around Rs 18.5 to produce a litre of milk. If they do not get more money in return, it would be difficult for them to sustain. Such decisions would help more people take up milk farming,” he said.

Milk unions and Omfed officials said the price of milk in Odisha was less compared to other states and it would not affect the people much because the consumers were not below the poverty line.

The farmers said that in other states, the government provided bonuses to them to attract more people to milk farming. However, this was yet to happen in Odisha.