KARACHI: Consumers on Thursday continued to buy fresh milk at the rate of Rs140 per litre despite the fact that the official price was fixed at Rs120 per litre by the commissioner of Karachi on Wednesday evening.

The commissioner has raised the official retail price by Rs26 per litre to Rs120 per litre, from Rs94 per litre fixed in March 2018.

The rates at dairy farmer and wholesale levels have now been fixed at Rs105 and Rs110 per litre, against the earlier official rates of Rs85 and Rs88, respectively.

It is interesting to note here that consumers have never purchased fresh milk at the official rates because of a lack of enforcement of the government’s writ and ineffective price checking mechanism.

Retail prices had already been raised before the announcement of the new official prices.

Speaking to Dawn, many consumers said that official prices fixed by the commissioner’s office did not hold any significance as the price fixing announcement had become a routine official exercise with no practical purpose providing no relief to the masses.

In March 2021, fresh retail milk price went up to Rs130 from Rs120 per litre, while it further rose to Rs140 per litre in the second week of November 2021 despite no change in official rate at Rs94 per litre fixed in March 2018.

The spokesperson for milk retailers association Abdul Waheed Gaddi said it would be difficult to sell milk at the controlled rate until the administration ensured milk supply from wholesalers at the new official rate fixed at Rs110 per litre.

He said he had informed the commissioner in the meeting on Wednesday that retailers were getting milk at Rs130-131 per litre from wholesalers. “We cannot suffer loss by getting milk at higher rates and sell them at reduced rate,” he added.

President of the Dairy Cattle Farmers Association (DCFA) Shakir Gujjar said the commissioner of Karachi had issued a price notification without taking the stakeholders into confidence in the Wednesday meeting.

“The notification has been issued without signatures of the stakeholders,” he claimed.

He claimed that the commissioner and DC Malir had threatened the dairy farmers in the meeting of dire consequences for not signing the notification.

‘Dairy farmers shifting business’

“We reject the commissioner’s decision ... we will go to the high court and also stage a peaceful protest,” he said adding that the commissioner was not realising that the dairy farmers were becoming defaulters and many of them had moved their business to the interior of Sindh and Punjab. “Some 200 dairy farmers have gone to Lahore for dairy farming,” he added.

Farmers could not survive if they did not get a price above the cost of production, he said while referring to the production cost prepared by the DC Malir which was Rs128 per litre.

He added that the department looking after the milk sector had prepared production cost at Rs133 while dairy farmers had calculated the cost at Rs155 per litre.

He claimed that the price gap of Rs20 per litre had been kept between the official retail rate and current market rate only to harass retailers; otherwise fixing retail price at Rs140 per litre would close the door on corruption.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2021

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