KARACHI: Politics and the blame game drained the milk from most of the city's markets as the milk crisis persisted till Wednesday, as the associations of dairy farmers, retailers and wholesalers passed the blame of the price hike onto each other.
The areas where milk was being supplied, it was sold at Rs85 per litre, whereas the actual rate prescribed by the government is Rs70 per litre.
At New Rehmat Milk Shop in Gulistan-e-Jauhar, the seller told The Express Tribune that there hadn't been any milk supplied to his shop since Tuesday night. He said that even if the supply was restored, he would sell milk at Rs85 per litre. Showing the receipt for the milk he purchased a few days back, he said that he bought 105 maunds of milk for Rs302,400.
"I buy milk for Rs2,880 per maund," he said, adding that the amount was equal to Rs72 per kilogramme (kg). "How can I sell it at Rs70 when I have to cover the cost of polythene bags and rent along with paying the electricity tariff?" he demanded, adding that after converting the unit into litres, he has to add more milk to balance the ratio.
But a representative of the dairy and cattle farmers' association, Khawaja Amir, said that they will continue to sell milk at Rs2,750 per kg, which has been set by the government. He said that it was not his concern at what rate the retailer or the wholesalers sell milk to the consumer. "They have their issues, which the government needs to address," he said.
Split in milk cartels
Amir told The Express Tribune that the dairy farmers' association has been divided. After the city government sent some milk sellers to jail and imposed heavy fines, the president of the Cattle Farmers Association, Haji Sikander, withdrew the price hike on the condition that the members of his association are released.
Amir claimed that the Karachi Dairy and Cattle Farmers Association chairperson, Shakir Umer, continued his strike call, which is why the areas that fell under Umer's influence still faced shortages. "Even some of the areas under Sikander's influence are facing a shortage as most of his association members have yet to be released," he said.
According to Umer, his association has not halted the milk supply. "The shortage is due to the ban on hormonal injections that are administered to cows to increase milk production," he said.
Karachi commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui told The Express Tribune that milk is an essential item and its supply could not be halted.
Supply has been restored by the farmers' association, after successful negotiation with Siddiqui. Umer said that the commissioner has assured them that their men will be released and a committee formed to set the prices of milk.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2015.
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