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Why Are Kashmir Farmers Dumping Milk In Drains?

by Nazir Masoodi

SRINAGAR: Dairy farmers in Kashmir are dumping thousands of litres of milk down the drain due to lowered demand, which they blame on the Covid19 lockdown.

In Pulwama, one of Kashmir’s main milk-producing belts, the farmers are seen destroyed their production by dumping the milk in drains. This photograph was taken in Lassipora where they used to supply a milk packaging unit that has now reduced its milk purchase by more than half. Corona curfew is being implemented in such a way that basic consumption has gone down.

In Pulwama, the highest milk producing district in the region, distressed farmers brought truckloads of milk cans to Industrial Estate Lassipora and threw it in a drain.

They didn’t find buyers after dairy plants at the Industrial Estate refused to buy milk citing subdued demand due to lockdown.

“For over last one month, we are selling only 40 per cent of the milk. There are no buyers because of lockdown,” said Rafiq Ahmad, a dairy farmer.

Mr Ahmad has 40 cows and his inability to sell milk has hit his livelihood. The cows are at the verge of starvation, he said.

“I don’t have money to buy fodder for my 40 cows. I earn by selling milk, feed my family and cows. Now I’m dumping 60 per cent of the milk produced every day,” he said.

At Lassipora Industrial Estate, Zum Zum milk processing plant was buying 22,000 litres from dairy farmers before the lowdown. Today it has dropped to just 10,000 litres.

“We purchase milk and process it in the unit based on demand in the market. Since our sales have lowered after corona curfew, we are forced to limit our procurement to 50-60 per cent,” said Shafat Shah, owner of the dairy plant.

Many farmers turned away from various dairy plants finally decided to dump milk in a drain. Farmers say it’s painful to throw milk away but they have been left with no option.

“We don’t know how we and our cows will survive in such a situation. We appeal to the Governor to intervene and save and us and our cows,” said Zahoor Ahmad.

Nazir Masoodi

The farmers say educated youth have chosen dairy farming as a means of employment, but many are selling their cows because of lockdown and no access to the market.

“I spent over ₹ 300 to feed a cow daily. How can I feed her if I can’t sell milk? I have taken a loan from a bank and set up my dairy farm. The government should intervene and come to our rescue,” said Sajad Ahmad, a dairy farmer.

 (Nazir Masoodi is NDTV’s Srinagar Bureau Chief. The write-up appeared on the NDTV website first)

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