The government is considering incentivising exports of milk products, adding milk to mid-day meal rations as well as reducing GST and increasing import duty on certain products as it seeks ways to ensure better returns for dairy farmers.
On Tuesday, the Centre convened a high-level inter-ministerial meeting under transport minister Nitin Gadkari to discuss these measures, even as a strike by dairy farmers in Maharashtra continued for the second day. Railway minister Piyush Goyal, who also holds the finance and coal portfolios, Amul managing director RS Sodhi, Maharashtra State Commission of Agricultural Costs and Prices Centre chairman Pasha Patel attended the meeting, with agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh joining in through videoconferencing.
Gadkari will hold another meeting on Wednesday with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar, minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi and the agriculture and railways ministers to finalise the measures.
Today, along with union ministers Radha Mohan Singh and Piyush Goyal and officials we discussed challenges faced in the milk production sector. We have decided to offer a 10% incentive on exports of milk and milk products. Tomorrow, we will meet again to explore available options, Gadkari tweeted. Later, he said they were also looking at providing milk products as a part of midday meals at schools.
States would soon be asked to come on board. Also, there are a lot of countries that receive grants from India. Some of these have shortage of milk. We could offer them milk powder as a part of grant. We are finding out ways to push the retail demand of milk.
I urge people to replace cold drinks with milk," Gadkari told reporters. Sources said they also considered cutting GST on ghee and butter to 5% from 12% and increasing import duty on lactose to 60% from 40%. Government officials said dairy cooperatives have a stock of more 1.5 lakh tonnes of skimmed milk powder — used for preparing liquid milk in the summer when supplies are short — and they could easily export 50,000 tonnes if an export subsidy was given, helping firming domestic prices.