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Support price for milk sought

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, SEPT. 29. A national Dairy Industry Conference today recommended that the Government re-negotiate the import duties in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) of the Skimmed Milk Powder and butteroil from the present level of 60 per cent and 40 per cent respectively to 100 per cent.

It also sought minimum support price for milk from the government as for other commodities.

At the conclusion of the three-day conference here on Tuesday, the top dairy experts from India and SAARC countries suggested formation of a SAARC Dairy Association to collectively meet the challenges of dairy exports from the European Union and the United States of America. They decided to impress upon their governments to target the export subsidies in developed countries on milk products and develop data and research to fight off non-tariff and technical barriers.

Also, to organise countries of Asia and Africa to fight off unfair trade practices. On the domestic front, the Conference suggested setting in place institutional framework to sharpen India's negotiating skills in international fora. The conference suggested holding of a Pakistan-India Dairy Conference to the mutual advantage of the two nations. Pakistan has a high per capita milk consumption and can provide market to India, while the former is looking for organised structures like the one set up under `operation flood' in India, according to Animesh Banerjee, President of Indian Dairy Association.

It was recommended to identify priority markets like SAARC countries, the Gulf, far east and the U.S. to target the 15 million overseas Indians with milk productions. However, it was also agreed to first cater to the domestic market and then look outwards. The conference recognised the pressing need to improve the quality of milk and milk products right from primary production to the finished product and for upgradation to state-of-the art technologies. For long-time competitiveness , the participants agreed to invest in productivity enhancement, cost reduction in processing and take advantage of economies of large scale production.

It called for cooperative sector reforms and for milk testing method to be tested under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act.

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