Karnataka farmers decry delay in milk incentives, dues as KMF sponsors T20 World Cup teams

The state government provides a ₹5 incentive for each litre of milk. In all, payment of ₹800 crore is pending since September 2023.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published May 30, 2024 | 10:00 AM Updated May 30, 2024 | 10:00 AM

A milk farmer in Karnataka.

At least around seven to eight lakh farmers in Karnataka are angry with the state government for not releasing milk incentives for the last eight months.

This, even as the Karnataka Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation Ltd (KMF) is sponsoring the Scotland and Ireland national cricket teams for the 2024 T20 World Cup.

The state government provides ₹5 as an incentive to the farmers for each litre of milk. The milk procurement rate varies from one milk union to another in the state.

Farmers in Mysuru, Chamarajanagar, Mandya, Bagalkot, Vijayapura, Gadag, Kolar, and several other districts are complaining that they have not received the incentives since September 2023 for supplying milk to the KMF.

The farmers’ associations have claimed that the Siddaramaiah-led-Karnataka government was delaying the release of around ₹800 crore milk incentives for the last eight months, compelling several farmers to take loans for agricultural activities.

“There are around 40,000 farmers (milk suppliers) from Scheduled Castes (SCs) and 38,000 from Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities,” claimed officials at the state’s Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services.

“There are over 8 lakh farmers from the general and other categories. The government needs at least ₹119 crore every month to pay the incentive for the milk suppliers,” they added.

The KMF is sponsoring two international cricket for the 2024 T20 World Cup — which will be held in the US and West Indies for nearly a month from 2 June — because it apparently wants to expand its market in Europe and other foreign countries.

Related: KMF to sponsor Ireland, Scotland cricket teams with brand name ‘Nandini’

Pre-monsoon activities affected

“The milk suppliers belonging to Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) have received their incentive,” said a farmer named Basavaraju Sathegalli.

“I belong to the general category. I have not received the incentive since September 2023,” complained the resident of Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s home district Mysuru.

“I have four cows. I have been regularly supplying milk to the KMF for several years,” he noted.

“We receive the money for the milk once a fortnight, but the incentive is always delayed,” said Basavaraju, claiming that it is provided once in three to six months.

He told South First: “This year, it has been delayed by eight months. When we ask the officials, they claim that processing has been delayed because of the elections.”

He asked: “If the government delays this, where are we going to get the money for sowing activities that we need to take up pre-monsoon?”

The farmer also said: “The amount that we are earning through supplying milk is barely helping us to meet the monthly expenses.”

Basavaraju claimed that his incentive is around ₹2,500-3,000 every month.

Also Read: Kerala to oppose Karnataka milk brand Nandini from coming into the state

The bigger picture

He is among lakhs of farmers who have been appealing to the government for several months to release the pending incentives.

The farmers pointed out that their incentives remained pending despite the matter being brought to the notice of the elected members and district-level officials.

Bagalkot’s Alagur Milk Producers’ Cooperative Society — one of Karnataka’s leading milk-producing cooperative societies — has claimed that incentives of 300 members totalling around ₹50 lakh were pending for eight months.

The cooperative society’s member Naminath Borganvi told South First: “Our society alone needs to receive a pending incentive of ₹50 lakh from the state government. If we consider two to three other cooperative societies, the pending incentive goes over ₹1 crore.”

He added: “The dairy farmers were reeling under burdens as the prices of the fodder and other needs for the cattle have gone up in the midst of a severe drought. If the government pays incentives at least once in three or four months, it will help them financially to a greater extent. The MLAs should raise their voice before the government.”

Karnataka State Sugarcane Growers’ Association President Kurbur Shanthakumar told South First: “The state government has kept the incentives of around ₹800 crore of the milk supplier pending for the last eight months. The production cost has gone up due to drought.”

He noted: “The price of fodder and other food requirements of the cattle have shot up by at least 50 percent. The state has witnessed severe drought.”

He added: “Farmers should not be made to wait further as the pre-monsoon activities are picking up. If it delays [incentive payments] further, it has to face the consequences.”

Also Read: TTD confirms another supplier over KMF for ‘laddu prasad’ ghee

Will clear pending milk incentives, say officials

Karnataka Finance Department officials claimed that the pending milk incentives of ₹800 crore were from previous fiscal years and would be cleared to a certain extent in the current year.

Over 24 lakh milk producers are members of the KMF in 22,000 villages in the state. Every day, over 84 lakh kg of milk is procured across 14 milk unions and ₹17-crore payment is made to milk suppliers.

Admitting to the pending milk incentive, Chief Minister’s Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) LK Atheeq, who is also the ACS to the Finance Department, told South First: “The milk incentive balances of around ₹800 crore are from previous years 2021-22 and 2022-23.”

He added: “We have provided ₹1,040 crore during 2023-24, which has been fully released. We have to clear the old dues as well, which we will have to do during the current year to the extent possible.”

Asked about the pending milk incentives, KMF Managing Director MK Jagadish told South First: “The incentive is provided by the state government and not the KMF. We only provide them the details of the milk suppliers.”

He added: “The state government has already processed ₹350 crore for the pending incentive. It was delayed for two months due to the elections. The government will clear the due at the earliest.”

However, he did not disclose details about the KMF’s expenditure in sponsoring two international cricket teams for the T20 World Cup.

The KMF is paying somewhere around ₹2.5 crore in sponsorship per team, some reports have claimed.

Payment on the way?

On condition of anonymity, an official from the Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services told South First: “The budget for the milk incentive has been released recently.”

She added: “The payment process is underway. It was delayed by two months due to the Lok Sabha elections.”

She also said: “The milk incentive for the SC-ST farmers has been paid till February. The incentive for the general category has been pending since September 2023. The incentive is pending for a total of 7.5 lakh farmers.”

The official noted: “The farmers belonging to SCs and STs get the incentive much earlier than those from the general and other categories because these communities’ budget is minimal compared to others.”

She pointed out: “We need ₹5 crore every month to pay the incentive for SCs and ₹4 crore for STs. The budget for general and other categories stands at ₹110 crore.”

She went on to explain: “Getting the required budget sanctioned for these categories needs time, whereas the budget for the SCs and STs will get quickly as the total estimate is a mere ₹9 crore.”