THOUGH shortage of milk per se is likely to be alleviated by winter,the real problem may persist if the government does not reconsider delicensing of the milk processing industry.The present milk output, albeit adequate for the present, is not high enough to permit indiscriminate conversion of fresh milk into value-added dairy products.The delicensing policy would inevitably lead to a rise in the prices of milk,adding to the woes of the consumer.
CALENDAR PROBLEM:The current year is said to be an “Adhik Mas year”,according to the Hindu calendar.This means an extra month is added as an adjustment to the lunar calendar.This month is deemed highly auspicious for marriages.This has resulted not only in an increase in the consumption of fresh milk in villages but also in the conversion of milk to ghee for cooking purposes.High prices of edible oil and difficult availability has encouraged manufacture of ghee.The cost of home-made ghee comes to quite close to the prevailing market prices of vanaspati and other cooking oils in rural areas.
Despite all this,the net availability of milk is sufficient to meet the demand of urban centres.However,the delicensing of the dairy product industry as part of the overall liberalisation policy perturbed the cooperative dairy sector which promptly issued a threat to stop the supply of milk to the capital in a bid to force the government to review the decision.The cooperatives feel that it would be difficult for them to exist in compete with the private sector without going in for the manufacture of value-added products or pushing up the prices of milk for consumers.
Several large Indian Industrial houses,as also some multinational companies(MNCs) like Nestle and Foremost have already entered the dairy products market.The new policy will encourage more MNCs to do so as it is cheaper to manufacture milk products in India and sell them elsewhere.Production costs in India are said to be much lower than in the European countries.Gone are the days when the European Economic Community had massive stocks of unsold milk powder,Butter and other dairy products.The deliberate reduction in the cattle production after that experience has shrunk the supplies and pushed up the prices of milk and its products in these countries.

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