Despite restrictions and constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ernakulam region of the Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union under Milma has seen procurement reaching the sales levels.
Milk procurement in the Ernakulam region was to the tune of 3.5 lakh tonnes a day, almost at par with the sales levels, said Milma Chairman P.A. Balan on Thursday. He said the COVID-19 lockdown and subsequent restrictions on activities had given way to increased procurement of milk in the Ernakulam region, comprising the districts of Ernakulam, Kottayam, Thrissur and Idukki.
Mr. Balan said the rise in procurement had coincided with the expansion of fortified milk supplies to children in anganwadis with the support of Integrated Child Development Services.
The ultra-high temperature processed milk has a shelf life of around 90 days and Milma has been able to expand the distribution of milk with the financial backing of the State government in northern Kerala districts. The milk distribution programme was launched under the aegis of the Malabar union, where there is excess procurement when compared to sales.
The milk being distributed to the anganwadi children is fortified with vitamins A and D. The process was launched during the early days of COVID-19 lockdown, when there was excess procurement when compared to sales. It was decided that the excess milk would be processed to provide supplementary nutrition to children in anganwadis across the State.
The Department of Women and Child Welfare and local self-government bodies were involved in providing fortified milk to children in anganwadis, added Mr. Balan.
He said that while the Malabar region was producing about 1.5 lakh litres of milk per day in excess of the sales, the Thiruvananthapuram region had seen a gap in supplies. The shortage is to the tune of about 40,000 litres per day, and is met partially through supplies from Karnataka. The rest of the shortage is met through supplies from the Malabar region.