As summer intensifies, dairy farmers seek fodder from govt

By Times Of India on 30 Apr 2018
MADURAI: In the last few days the temperatures during the day has been hovering around 40C in the district while pasture lands in the city outskirts are drying up really fast. This has put dairy farmers in the district, with nearly 2.56 lakh milch animals, in tight spot even as the summer has just begun to intensify.
Agriculture has been consistently waning in the district with poor rainfall and irregular monsoon. As has been the practice, farmers augment their agriculture income by raising a couple of cows or buffaloes with available water to cultivate green fodder.

According to dairy farmers association, there are nearly 50,000 dairy farmers in the district. With green pastures turning dearer, farmers who attended the farmers grievance redressal meeting held at the collector’s office last week brought to fore the issue, urging the district administration to provide dry fodder, as was the case last year.

Considering the drought condition previous year, the animal husbandry department established ten dry-fodder depots in the district and provided 1,150 tonnes of dry fodder to dairy farmers. Each dairy farmer was provided 105kg of hay-fodder as the maximum ceiling.

During the meeting, farmer V R Muthupeyandi from Chellampatti block told district collector K Veera Raghava Rao that they cannot save their cattle if dry fodder is not arranged this year too.

District secretary of Tamil Nadu Dairy Farmers Association A Muthupandi said that dairy farmers are under enormous stress to get fodder. “If there are no summer rains in the next ten days, it will be difficult to maintain the cattle,” he said.

Further, dairy farmers also rued that the fodder subsidy provided to them by state government has been withdrawn. They were provided Rs 4 per kilogram of mixed fodder (kuchipunnakku) as subsidy and was withdrawn from April.

Former chief minister J Jayalalithaa had increased the procurement price of milk from Rs 23 to Rs 28 in 2014. “The procurement prices have not been revised since then but the fodder prices have almost doubled,” Muthupandi said.

For instance, one bag (50 kg) of mixed fodder which costed Rs 650 has increased to Rs 910. One kilogram of rice husk, the ordinary fodder provided to milch animals, has increased from Rs 3.5 per kg to Rs 10 now.

“While the price of fodder is increasing, we are not getting back due remuneration. In addition, this summer has left us in a lurch without fodder to feed our animals,” Muthupandi added.

Joint director of animal husbandry Dr R Rajasekaran said that the department has sent a revised proposal of requesting 1,400 - 1,500 tonnes of dry (hay) fodder to give away to farmers from the same 10 depots established earlier. “We are awaiting state government’s nod,” he said.