KARACHI: Confusion persists in the market over the price of milk. While dairy farmer associations have unilaterally increased milk prices in the wholesale market by Rs4, the retailers, so far, have resisted the increase.
There are as many as 13 dairy farmer associations in Karachi. Dairy Farmer Association Karachi president Haji Akhtar, with the consent of all the other associations, has raised the milk price in the wholesale market. While talking to The Express Tribune, he said that the milk which was being sold in the wholesale market at Rs71 is now being sold at Rs75. In the last four years, he said that the milk prices have not been increased, whereas the cost of production has increased dramatically.
Dairy farmers demand increase in milk prices
However, founder of the Karachi Milk Retailer Association Amjad Ali said that they have resisted the increase so far. "Until the government issues a notification we will not increase milk prices," he vowed, reasoning that crackdowns always take place against shopkeepers not farmers. Payments to wholesalers have been halted, he said, fearing that if the situation persists the city could face a severe milk shortage.
Meanwhile, Dairy and Cattle Farmers Association president Shakir Umer said that since the rates of milk have not been increased in the last four years, they plan to increase the price of milk by Rs4 in February and then again by Rs4 in March.
In 2015, the Dairy and Cattle Farmers Association increased milk prices, in the metropolis without the government's consent by Rs10 per litre, due to which the wholesale price of milk soared up to Rs81. In their defence, the farmers' association claimed that the last time the price was increased was in 2012 and the price of fodder had drastically increased since then.
Later, the issue was resolved when former Karachi commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui intervened and formed a committee to look into the milk prices. At that time, according Umer, the government notified that the rate for wholesale price of milk was to be Rs64 but in the market it was being sold at Rs71. Since then their cost of production increased, said Umer, adding that they increased their rate by Rs10 and started selling at Rs81, which then caused the government to intervene and form a committee.
On March 1, 2016, with the recommendations of the committee, former Karachi commissioner Asif Hyder Shah issued a notification capping wholesale milk price at the market rate of Rs73 and retail milk at Rs80. However, the retail milk price remained at Rs85 in the market, despite the government's notification, said Umer.
Milk to be sold for Rs80 per litre
According to him, Shah did not increase the price of milk according to the wishes of the dairy farmers' associations, which is why they have decided to further increase milk prices as their cost of production has increased drastically.
Responding to the situation, additional commissioner I Muhammad Aslam Khoso said that Akhtar was summoned to the commissioner's office and has agreed to not increase milk prices. "If anyone tries to challenge the government's rate, we will take strict legal action," he vowed, assuring that they would not let milk prices soar.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2017.
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