MORIGAON, April 7 - Sitajakhala Milk Co -operative Society, which is the biggest milk production centre in Morigaon district, has been facing serious financial challenges due to the ongoing 21-day lockdown across the country.
According to Puspadhar Das, vice chairman of Sitajakhala Milk Cooperative Society, the ongoing lockdown following the COVID-19 pandemic has affected operation of this milk co-operative society in multiple ways.
The daily procurement target of Sitajakhala Milk Co-operative Society is generally 17,000 to 18,000 litres per day. On March 22, due to confusion regarding the lockdown, milk could not be procured.
Since no dairy farmer could collect feed or cattle fodder, hence the Society has had to incur loss to the tune of Rs 13 lakh till date. From day 1 of the lockdown till now, the Society has not been able to visit the market.
On the other hand, due to confusion regarding the various government notifications on essential items, where there was no clear cut guideline either from the Central or from the State government regarding milk production and supply, the same has contributed to compound the situation even further.
Another type of problem faced by the Society was due to fear psychosis among villagers who tried to restrict the entry of milkmen from their villages, thus causing hurdles in the movement of fodder and milk.
In the meantime, the Society has been trying to obtain movement permission for its vehicles, personnel, feed transportation etc.
It may be pertinent to add here that most of the raw material for the milk processing plant comes from outside the State. Most of these raw materials have a very short shelf life ranging from 15 days to a month.
The stock of many such critical raw materials has gone down and may eventually lead to closure of operation till the lockdown is lifted. As such, the biggest co-operative milk society of central Assam is presently facing an uncertain future.
Considering the grave situation, Agriculture, Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Minister Atul Bora rushed to the Amlighat-based Sitajakhala Milk Co-operative Society yesterday and took stock of the overall situation.
In the meantime, chairman Ranjib Sarma, who is in fact the brain behind this largest milk production centre in central Assam, submitted a memorandum to the Minister demanding three important initiatives on an urgent basis, including setting up of cattle nourishment project at Amlighat by the Assam Agricultural University.
The trail-blazing White Revolution in Morigaon district initiated by late Nanda Lal Upadhai through Sitajakhala Dugdha Utpadak Samiti is today facing serious challenge of survival owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. It goes without saying that the livelihood of thousands of marginal dairy farmers today hangs in balance.
The local people have therefore urged the government to declare a special package in order to save this largest milk industry of central Assam.