A severe shortage of milk is expected in the city today (Wednesday) as various associations involved in the trading of milk have announced that they are going on strike for an indefinite time period and will not call it off until their demands are met.
The All Karachi Milk Wholesalers Association and one of the milk farmers’ associations, the Karachi Dairy and Cattle Farmers Association, jointly announced on Tuesday their decision of going on strike as their meeting on Monday with Additional Commissioner-I Ahmed Ali Qureshi did not produce desired results.
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Besides the Karachi Dairy Cattle Farmer Association, there are two more associations of daily farmers who supply milk to Karachi, namely the Karachi Dairy Farmer Association and the Dairy Farmer Association, which have distanced themselves from the strike call and insist on selling milk at the increased rates.
The recent milk issue started on Saturday when all the three farmers’ associations jointly increased the wholesale rate of milk from Rs85 to Rs95 per litre, a move that was rejected by the provincial government which warned the milk shops’ owners against increasing the retail price of milk.
The dairy farmers are demanding that the wholesale price of one litre of milk be increased by Rs25 as due to the increase in fodder’s cost and other factors, they have been incurring losses.
“In the first phase, we have increased the price of milk by Rs10 and in the second phase, we will increase it by Rs15,” said Karachi Dairy and Cattle Farmers Association chairperson Shakir Umer.
It may be noted here that the Commissioner Office was supposed to revise the price of fresh milk after every four months in accordance with the food inflation rate notified by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), according to an agreement between the farmers’ associations and the Commissioner House in light of a Supreme Court decision. However, no price revision has taken place since April 1, 2018.
Speaking to The News, the Wholesaler Association’s Haji Rafiq said the retailers had refused to accept the increase in milk price by the farmers as they feared a government crackdown in case they sold milk at high retail price.
Rafiq said the wholesalers, whose job was to collect milk from the farms and distribute it to the retailers on the basis of yearly contracts, were in a difficult situation as the retailers had told them that they would not receive milk from them at the increased wholesale price.
As the retailers were not ready to buy milk at higher rates, the wholesalers had decided that they would not be collecting milk from the farms from today (Wednesday) onwards, he said, adding that it would harm the farmers as they had no mechanism to preserve milk which would rot if not sold in a timely manner.
As for the retailers, Amjad Ali of the Milk Retailers Association said panic-buying of milk had already begun in the city and there would be a severe shortage of milk in the city today. He added that the retailers were neither supporting the strike nor rejecting it. “Since we will not get milk, we won’t be able to sell it.”
Meanwhile, Additional Commissioner-I Qureshi said they had already despatched a request to the State Bank of Pakistan to determine the inflation rate so that new rates of milk could be notified.
He said a meeting of representatives of the government and all the associations involved in the milk trade was likely to take place today, after which the matter would be resolved amicably.
When asked if the Commissioner Office would agree on the farmers’ increase in milk price by Rs10, he said the new milk price would be calculated according to the SBP data.
(This news/article originally appeared in The News on July 10th, 2019)