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Tug of war over milk price affects none but consumers

15 March 2007

PAKISTAN - The price of milk in the metropolis seems to be doomed to no end, with its never-ending upwards trend, coupled with the government’s inability to deal with the situation.

Recently, on the directives of the city Nazim, those retailers who have been selling milk above the government fixed price of Rs28 per kilogram, have been fined or arrested, but the solution does not seem to lie in this tactic.

There are various causes for high milk prices, two of them being the high cost of fodder and cattle.

A retailer said that the costs of animals and fodder along with their maintenance had truly risen, but the government was not ready to take a realistic stance on these problems.

In fact, the feeling is so strong that Zahoor Elahi of the Anjuman Milk Group, a wholesaler committee, is of the same mind. He complains that the government has made no effort to hear the retailers and wholesalers views on the matter and in fact has blindly ordered for the rates to go down.

The wholesalers operate from Lea Market, which is the open market for milk. The milk is transferred from two locations. Some milk comes from the Cattle Colony, whereas the rest of the milk is transported from Hyderabad to Karachi and sold directly in the open market. The general view is that milk transported from Hyderabad is low in quality, as compared to the milk that comes from the Cattle Colony in Karachi.

“Transportation costs, fodder prices and cattle maintenance have risen. The water cost has almost doubled. We cannot be expected to sell milk at a lower price,” says a member of the Dairy Farmers’ Association.

The retailers and wholesalers have different complaints this time from the dairy farmers. They say that the farmers and cattle owners who are responsible for selling milk to the wholesalers in the Mandi do not keep to their word.

Elahi and Malik, both milk retailers, say that the dairy farmers had said in the court verbally that they would decrease their selling price. But outside the court, they retracted and made excuses, they added.

Indeed the matter seems to have become more and more complicated. The milk sellers may not be completely wrong when they say that they cannot make up for their over head costs and other costs such as labour. They say they cannot afford to pay for their shop rent, or their electricity (used in excess as milk has to be stored in refrigerators), or even packaging

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Source: The News - International


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