Shopian: In absence of any proper government rate list, both dairy farmers and consumers in Shopian district are being cheated by middlemen who are making all the profits by paying low rates to dairy farmers and selling the milk at high rates in the market.
The majority of the population in this mountainous district is dependent on the horticulture sector, but many also rear cows and sell the milk to local shopkeepers as another means of income.
“We get a hundred bundles of fodder at Rs 5,000 which is three times higher the price than a few years ago. Chaff is at Rs 30 a kilogram, jaggery at Rs 50 a kilogram, and in return we get Rs 27 per litre of milk,” said Muhammad Rafi, a cattle farmer.
Another farmer said that milk has become cheaper than water due to the lack of a government rate list and machines to measure the fat and density of milk. “One litre of mineral water is being sold at Rs 30 in hotels, while milk gets only Rs 27,” said Muhammad Ayub Bhat, a farmer from Losedenow area.
Locals said that in almost every district in the valley, milk is sold according to its quality, but Shopian is the lone district where no parameters are being considered. Whether anyone mixes water with milk or not, he gets the same price by the middlemen who sell the same milk at double the rates.
In Shopian town, a litre of milk is being sold at Rs 50 to Rs 60 after buying it at Rs 25-27 from the village farmers.
Farmers demand that the rates of milk as per quality should be fixed.
People who buy cow milk from the market said that they are being given coloured water in the name of milk, that too at exorbitant rates. “You will see families having four or five members buying three to four litres of milk every day, since it lacks all the qualities of milk and thus needs more to make tea or other things,” said Shahid Ahmad, a resident of Batpora in Shopian town.
Ahmad said that milk should be sold as per the quality so that people are not cheated.
Shopian district according to government figures has more than 6,000 cows who on average produce around three lakh litres of milk per day.
Besides local farmers, many youths have set up dozens of cow farms in the district.
Dr Ishrat, Chief Animal Husbandry Officer Shopian, told Kashmir Reader that they are trying to set up cooperatives for milk collection at village levels. “It needs proper awareness and we are going to start an awareness programme before tying up with any agency,” he said.