SHOPIAN: The milk supplied to towns and cities from surrounding areas of rural Kashmir has broken the backs of both cow owners and those buying milk from the market, as middlemen double the prices and loot sellers and buyers alike at every point of sale.
In the village areas of Shopian, those who buy milk using load carriers buy it at rates ranging from Rs 22-25, irrespective of the milk’s quality, i.e. its fat and density. In Srinagar, however, and in other major towns of the valley, the same is sold at nearly double these rates, with prices going up to Rs 40 to 45.
Many villagers engaged in animal farming whom Kashmir Reader talked to said that they were being looted by suppliers and the middlemen who take their produce to sell in urban areas after giving them very low prices for it.
“We don’t have high-breed cows. Our cows give hardly 7 to 12 litres of milk a day, but the same cow needs the care of one labourer a day for providing it fodder and other nutrients,” said Shabir Ahmad Bhat, a villager from Losedenow. He added that cattle owners were surprised to learn the rates at which the milk they produce is being sold in Srinagar.
Milk in Shopian town, according to the people here, is supplied from a 7-10 km radius through nearby village areas, and there, too, the milk is sold at Rs 35-40.
“We buy 6 kgs of milk from the market every day, but the quality of milk is so poor that we are often forced to buy packed milk for a six-member family,” Muhammad Adnan, a local of the town said.
People from the town also said that the suppliers mix water with the milk they sell but keep the rates same as those for pure milk. “Nobody listens to us. The law enforcing agencies are acting as spectators without taking any action,” Sheeraz Ahmad, another local, said, adding that he has many times seen suppliers mixing water with milk on the banks of the Rambiara rivulet.
Villagers who rear cows said that in village areas there is no differentiation between pure and adulterated milk. “They give us Rs 22 per kg and the same to the people who mix water with milk, which is injustice,” Muhammad Ramzan, a villager from Trenz, said. He suggested that the government should come up with clear orders to fix the rate of milk as per quality, so that people who sell and buy it should not be looted.
A group of villagers from the area said that they have asked the suppliers to bring a machine to check the milk quality, but the suppliers ignore such requests with the excuse that the machines are too costly.
Director of Food, Civil Supplies, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Kashmir, Muhammad Qasim, was not available for comment.