The possibility of import of dairy products from countries like New Zealand to India, the world’s largest dairy producer, is being opposed by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).
In this regard, the traders’ body has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi against the possible nod by the Indian state to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RECP) that would eventually allow the import of dairy products from countries like New Zealand. Until now, dairy imports were not allowed by India, which was a serious issue among the dairy industry of India.
Praveen Khandelwal, national secretary-general, CAIT, in a letter to the PM has opposed the move and asked the government to reconsider its move under which Government of India is finalising RCEP agreement and is also considering to allow import of dairy products from countries like New Zealand and Australia which are known for huge dairy exports.
He stated that under this agreement, India should not allow import of dairy products from these countries, as 10 crore farmers are associated with the dairy industry and this decision could hurt their interests.
He pointed out, “Niti Aayog’s Working Group Report (Feb 2018) on Demand and Supply Projections towards 2033 for Crops, Livestock, Fisheries and Agricultural Inputs, states that the demand for milk was 292 Million MTs against which India will produce 330 MMT milk. Thus, India will be surplus in milk products and therefore the question of imports does not arise. NDDB and even international organisations like FAO and IFCN have also expressed similar projections.”
He explained, “We fear that if India agrees for import of dairy products under RCEP agreement then it would be detrimental to Indian dairy industry and it may create huge loss to milk producers of India and the dream of “doubling farmers’ income” would be shattered completely as today more than 20% of income comes from milk for a farmer of the country,” therefore considering the threat to the dairy industry, it is requested to advise concerned ministry/department to keep all dairy products out of purview of RCEP, he added.
CAIT says that India is the largest milk producing country of the world with production of around 48 crore litre per day. Total value of milk in India is Rs 7 lakh crore per year which is more than the value of grains and pulses put together. Over 10 crore farmers are associated with milk production in India.
Further, New Zealand produces 14 times more than its domestic requirements and therefore exports more than 93% (35 lakh Million Metric Tonne) of its total milk. Also, just 10,000 dairy farmers in New Zealand or 6,300 farmers of Australia are associated with dairying.
It is pertinent to mention here that in July a meeting was held between representatives of 15 countries in Beijing to discuss the RCEP and Free Trade Agreements. And it was alleged that in this meeting the India officials agreed to the proposal of dairy import from New Zealand.
Although it was agreed to import only 5% of the total export of milk value added products into India, but experts say that it would impact 28% of the Indian market.