Taking strong view of the issue of pending payments of dairy farmers, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday directed the Finance department to immediately make available a short-term advance of Rs. 90 Crores to Milkfed.He has also ordered Milkfed to chalk out a comprehensive policy to suggest ways and means to ensure uniform milk prices across the state.The instructions were issued at a meeting with a delegation of Progressive Dairy Farmers Association (PDFA) here at his official residence this afternoon. The Chief Minister constituted a four-member committee, headed by MD Milkfed Manjit Singh Brar, with Director Dairy Development Inderjit Singh, Secretary Animal Husbandry Captain Karnail Singh, and president PDFA Daljit Singh Gill as its members, for this purpose.The committee has been mandated to evolve a time-bound action plan to implement uniform milk price structure in order to remove the glaring disparities between milk prices prevailing in different districts.Earlier, the MD Milkfed apprised the Chief Minister that the fall in the prices of milk was primarily due to lower milk procurement than their processing capacities by the private players. He pointed out that Milkfed's share in total procurement of milk from dairy farmers was 20% while the remaining 80% was supposed to be lifted by private companies. But failure of these companies to lift the remaining forced Milkfed to enhance its quota of milk procurement by another 5 Lakh litres daily at remunerative prices to assist the dairy farmers.
Expressing concern over the reported adulteration of milk and milk products, the Chief Minister emphasized on the need to crack down on unscrupulous elements who were playing havoc with the lives of innocent people.In response to a demand of the delegation, Captain Amarinder asked his Chief Principal Secretary to set up at least three more food testing laboratories to bring efficacy in the system of checking adulterated food items. He asked the Financial Commissioner Cooperation to take all possible steps to strengthen the cooperative milk unions so as to enhance the production of milk and its processing at the Milkfed plants in the state.Underscoring the role of the dairy sector in diversification of agriculture, the Chief Minister urged the delegation to take proactive steps to motivate farmers to shift to dairy farming.The Chief Minister also asked the MD Milkfed to further tap into the marketing potential of Verka milk products like white butter, ghee, lassi, cheese and skimmed milk powder in other states, especially Delhi and NCR region. Captain Amarinder Singh also asked the MD Milkfed to draw an aggressive marketing strategy to counter the competition faced from private players.The PDFA president hailed the initiatives to boost the dairy sector, which had been in crisis during the decade long regime of SAD-BJP.The meeting was attended amongst others by Cooperation Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Dairy Development Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Chief Principal Secretary to CM Suresh Kumar, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh, Financial Commissioner Cooperation D P Reddy, and Financial Commissioner Development Viswajeet Khanna.