Traders slap Rs10 on milk pricesArchive
KARACHI: An official crackdown on milk sellers on Monday landed many of them behind bars for arbitrarily enhancing milk prices once again by Rs10 per litre, yet most people may have to purchase the commodity at the new price of Rs90 to Rs95 per litre as the wholesalers and retailers are not ready to bring down the prices on their own.
The official rate is Rs70 per litre.
The wholesalers claimed that dairy farmers had increased the rate of milk from Rs73 to Rs84 per litre and it was for this reason that the wholesalers and retailers, too, had to revise the prices.
“Until this Sunday, the dairy farmers supplied milk at the rate of Rs2,765 per 37.5 litres [roughly Rs73 per litre], but on Monday evening they supplied milk at Rs3,150 per 37.5 litres [roughly Rs84 per litre],” said All Karachi Milk Wholesalers Association representative Mohammad Rafiq while responding to Dawn queries.
He claimed that the wholesalers had to pass on the price difference to the retailers. Subsequently, the milk was being sold in the retail market at prices ranging between Rs90 and Rs95 per litre.
He quoted some dairy farmers as telling him that milk production had declined after a ban was placed on an injection that the dairy farmers had been administering to buffaloes to increase the milk production by around 28 litres. The injectable medicine which used to cost them around Rs400 boosted the production, he said.
The government banned it after the medicine had been found to be the primary cause of some health hazards, he said. Subsequently, he added, the price of the injection in the black market surged to Rs1,600.
He said that most of the dairy farmers stopped giving the injection to buffaloes, resulting in a drop in milk production. The decline in production increased the per litre cost of milk, he explained.
Responding to Dawn queries, Retailers’ Association chief Aslam Nagori said that the wholesalers had supplied milk to them at a revised rate leaving them with no option but to increase the price to Rs95 per litre.
He said the official rate of Rs70 per litre had been fixed some five years back.
Both Mr Nagori and Mr Rafiq were of the opinion that rather than taking stern action against those associated with the milk supply chain, the administration should hold talks with them to resolve the issue amicably.
They said they were ready to sell milk at the old prices if the government could ensure that dairy farmers supply the milk at the previous rate.
They said that the official rate had been fixed half a decade back though the milk was being sold in the retail market for the past one year at a price between Rs80 and Rs85 a litre.
According to them, the profit rates as approved by the government were Rs2.50 and Rs5.50 per litre for wholesalers and retailers, respectively. They said they could not reduce the profit rate as it included expenses as well.
Despite repeated attempts to approach representatives of dairy farmers, they were not available to comment on the issue.
Karachi Commissioner Shoaib Siddiqui has appealed to the people not to pay more than the official price of milk that was Rs70 per litre. He also urged them to lodge complaints regarding shopkeepers selling milk at inflated prices to his office at phone numbers: 99203443 and 99205634.
He said the crackdown had been launched against profiteers involved in the milk business. He said that many people associated with the milk business had been arrested and fined.
A spokesperson of the commissioner, Hassan Khanzada, told Dawn that 11 dairy farmers had been arrested and sent to jail for six months. Besides, he said, a fine of Rs50,000 had also been imposed on each of them.
The crackdown against the profiteers would continue, he said, adding that warrants for arrest of 97 other shopkeepers had already been issued.
Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2015
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