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Milk shortage in Karachi averted as trader associations put off strike till 17th

Updated July 12, 2019

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PEOPLE buy milk from a shop in DHA on Thursday. — White Star
PEOPLE buy milk from a shop in DHA on Thursday. — White Star

KARACHI: A severe shortage of fresh milk was averted in the city on Thursday for the time being as the wholesalers and retailers’ associations put off their strike till July 17 after the city administration assured their representatives that the milk price would be increased in accordance with the inflation rate to be determined by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

Two major associations of milk wholesalers and retailers — the All Karachi Milk Wholesalers Association and the Karachi Dairy and Cattle Farmers Association — on Tuesday jointly announced their decision of going on strike after their meeting with the city administration did not produce the desired results.

Two other associations of dairy farmers — the Karachi Dairy Farmer Association and the Dairy Farmer Association — had distanced themselves from the strike call and insisted on selling milk at the increased rates.

New prices to be fixed after determination of inflation rate by SBP

On Thursday, Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani held a joint meeting with representatives of the dairy farmers, wholesalers and retailers who apprised him of their grievances and issues pertaining to price, produce and a shortage of milk in the city due to recent inflation.

The commissioner assured the dairy farmers and milk sellers that the provincial government was fully aware of the problems being faced by the associations and that was why a meeting of all stakeholders was held to resolve the issue amicably.

He informed them that the city administration had already approached the SBP to seek the inflation statement through a third party to determine the milk price.

The commissioner said that another meeting would be held on July 17 with all stakeholders to resolve the present issue of milk price after the SBP inflation statement was received.

The dairy farmers are demanding that the wholesale price of one litre of milk be increased by Rs25 as due to the increase in fodder’s cost and other factors, they have been incurring losses.

According to Shakir Umer Gujjar, the commissioner office was supposed to revise the price of fresh milk after every four months in accordance with the food inflation rate notified by the SBP as per an agreement between the farmers’ associations and the Commissioner House in light of a Supreme Court decision. “However, no price revision has taken place since April 1, 2018,” he said.

On Saturday last, Sindh Minister for Supply and Prices Mohammad Ismail Rahu had directed the city administration to initiate strict action against those selling fresh milk at higher than the government-fixed prices as one of the dairy farmers’ associations announced an increase in the milk price by Rs10 per litre.

The minister had said that the city administration would consider the concerns of dairy farmers, but it would not tolerate hike in milk price without provincial government’s approval.

Later, the crisis deepened when the retailers refused to accept the increase in milk price by the wholesalers as they feared a crackdown in case they sold milk at a high retail price, telling the farmers that they would not receive milk from them at the increased wholesale rate.

On the other hand, the wholesalers decided that they would not collect milk from the dairy farms from Wednesday onwards, leaving the farmers in a fix as they did not have a mechanism to preserve milk.

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2019