Lack of government support in getting adequate medicines and cattle feed is putting dairy farmers in severe stress.
If the government continues to neglect the sector, more than 6,000 farmers, who supply around 60,000 litres of milk daily to the government-run Co-operative Milk Producers Union, popularly known as Ponlait, will not be able to sustain the production, say many farmers.
A dip in production would prompt Ponlait to source milk from other States which would have a cascading impact on the price and quality of milk supplied to residents, said R. Arasu, a farmer from Abishekapakkam.
Shortage of veterinarians
One of the main issues was shortage of veterinary doctors and medicines. Data gathered from the government revealed that around 85 posts of livestock inspectors, who were entrusted with the task of artificial insemination, had been lying vacant for a long time. Besides, there was a shortage of 20 veterinary doctors. Farmers complained that most veterinary hospitals in rural areas were facing shortage of essential medicines.
“It is sad that essential medicines are in short supply. We are asked to buy medicines or wait for a few more days for the arrival of medicines. It is not a very profitable business but if our expenses increase, the dairy sector will meet the fate of struggling agriculture farmers,” said R. Ramadass, who owns three cows and supplies around 10 to 14 litres of milk daily to the primary society at Karikalampakkam.
Another issue was the shortage as well as rising cost of hay for feeding the animals.
There was shortage of supply and prices were increasing, said Arasu. He complained of non-disbursal of subsidy for hay and cattle feed.
Although the government had set aside ₹113 lakh for providing subsidy, the amount could not be transferred to beneficiaries because of ongoing dispute between the Cooperative Department and Ponlait over fixing the rates for procuring feed from open market.
“Earlier, we used to get subsidy from the government for buying feed. The quantum of subsidy was based on the number of milch cows the farmers owned but now the government had stopped giving the subsidy amount.
“At a time when agriculture was causing distress, the government should promote dairy farming as it is sustainable and profitable if properly done,” said K. Ramakrishnan, a dairy farmer at Karikalampakkam.
Board to be formed
A senior official told The Hindu that the government had decided to constitute a Livestock Development Board to improve the livelihood means of farmers.
The setting up of the board would help the administration avail more funds from the Centre and plan schemes to improve yield.
“Scientific planning is necessary to improve the yield per cow. Also funds could be utilised to supply better breeds to farmers. Filling the vacancies are also under the active consideration of the government,” the official added.
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