GUWAHATI, March 31 - Milk producers of Assam are facing an acute crisis of cattle-feed after the government imposed a nationwide lockdown, which has also directly affected distribution of milk and other dairy products.
During a conversation with The Assam Tribune, chairman of the Sitajakhala Dugdha Utpadak Samabai Samiti Ltd Ranjit Sarma said that following the lockdown, every milk producer in both the organised and unorganised sectors, has been badly affected.
He informed that in Assam around 70 per cent cattle-feed is sourced from outside the State. But as all the factories located in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have stopped working after the lockdown, scarcity of cattle-feed is increasing at a rapid rate.
�Guwahati is our main market place. But after the lockdown we have lost 70 per cent space in the market. At such a critical time, we need intervention from the State government, otherwise our economy will face a severe disaster. We are trying to produce cattle-feed, but it is not sufficient to cover the demands of every milk producer of Assam,� Sarma said.
On the other hand, Sarma alleged that different government orders giving different directions on the same issue are creating confusion among the milk producers of Assam in marketing their products.
�In such a situation, survival of cows has become a challenge. Now we need a proper supply chain for cattle-feed, for which the Agriculture Minister should take immediate step. He should take a cue from the health department which is working on a war-footing. The situation has turned graver as there is protein deficiency (fish, meat, etc.,) in the market,� he stated.
Sarma urged the State Agriculture Minister and other senior officials to meet the farmers of the State and formulate a proper plan to solve the issues. He also appealed for financial assistance to the milk producers.
�At Sitajakhala, our production on any regular day is around 18,000 litres, but after the lockdown production has come down to around 14,000 litres daily. As the supply chain has been disrupted, we have restricted collection of milk to some extent. This will ultimately harm our farmers. So the industry is at risk. The entire dairy market is facing around 40 per cent loss after the lockdown. The government should arrange sufficient number of vehicles to supply milk and milk products in every nook and corner of the State. If that is not done, then we will not survive,� Sarma added.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Atul Bora informed that his department has formed State and district-level committees to streamline distribution of agricultural produce and cattle-feed without compromising with the advisory issued by the health department in view of the coronovirus outbreak.
Minister Bora further said that they are devising a roadmap to minimise the adverse impact of coronavirus in the agriculture sector. �Officials of the agriculture and animal husbandry departments will work in tandem with the district administration to streamline the distribution chain of agricultural produce, besides facilitating supply of fertilisers and other related items,� he said.