Faces huge deficit in milk National dairy policy needed
Al Amin: Easy and low-cost credit facility for the farmers and subsidy in feed and medicine, increasing facilities for animal husbandry and treatment, taking steps to improve breed of high yielding cows and establishing a Dairy Development Board soon to promote the dairy sector in the country.
The contribution of livestock in the GDP is over 6.5 percent and about 20 percent of Bangladesh’s population is directly or indirectly engaged in the livestock sector. Its share in the foreign exchange earnings in terms of exporting leather and other live stock by-products is about 9 percent.
Now, more than half a dozen milk processors are processing 10 lakh litres of fresh milk daily, which is more than double the amount they could process a decade ago.
And organised milk processors, gradually encouraged by business prospects arising out of increasing demand for milk and milk products, are increasing the volume of processing.
The country has to import more than 100,000 tonnes of powdered milk and dairy products by spending over Tk 2,000 crore a year, according to data by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics and Bangladesh Bank. Industry insiders have said that this huge supply-demand gap offers business prospects as there is scope to increase milk yield per cow in the country as there is a high density of cattle population.
New faces are entering the dairy farming sector and many existing farmers are focusing on improving productivity of their cows through artificial insemination, providing better care and proper feeding.
Mohammad Shah Emran, general secretary of Bangladesh Dairy Farmers’ Association (BDFA) told Daily Industry, “Many educated youths have started cattle farming for milk and meat production during the last five years. As a result, supply of milk is now double the amount produced five years back.”
The Department of Livestock Services (DLS) also registers increasing farming activities. Over 60,000, each with 10 or more cows, have registered with DLS for dairy purposes till now. New dairy zones have emerged in Gazipur, Savar, Rangpur and greater Jessore in the last several decades apart from the traditional milk production in Pabna-Sirajganj area, according to two officials of DLS.
“Overall farming is rising as demand for milk and milk-based products are growing in urban and semi-urban areas,” DLS Assistant Director (Farm), ABM Khaleduzzaman told Daily Industry.
“Previously, cattle farming had been limited to smallholders in rural areas. This has changed in recent years. Dairy farms have been established in urban and suburban areas,” he said, adding that more than 1,000 cattle farms have been established in areas surrounding Dhaka city, particularly in Dhaka’s outskirt Keraniganj.
National average milk yield has also increased from 1.5 litres in the 90s, he added.
Md Hossain Shah Newaz, assistant general manager, marketing of BRAC Dairy, said 90.9 lakh tonnes of milk production would be required by the year 2025 in Bangladesh with a modest population growth rate and per capita milk consumption of 120 ml. Total yearly requirement will be 1.90 lakh tonnes if per capita daily milk consumption rises to 250 ml as suggested by the World Health Organization.
“Now we are highly dependent on imported powdered milk. Therefore, local dairy industry has immense opportunities to grow,” he said.
Apart from shortage of high yielding cows, scarcity of land for dairy farms, shortage of high yielding and quality semen for AI, lack of technical knowhow for farming, high cost of labour and feed, inadequate treatment facility for cattle and lack of knowledge of handling milk are the major hindrances for faster development of the sector, said farmers and industry stakeholders.
Above all, low tariff on powdered milk import affects farmers in getting fair prices for milk.
“Dairy is an emerging sector. It can’t grow unless higher tariff is imposed to discourage import of powdered milk,” said BDFA General Secretary Emran adding that import prices of milk remain low because of subsidy given to farmers and to the industry by countries in the West.
As we consider powdered milk as baby food and impose less tax on its import, local milk becomes less competitive in the market. But the reality is that only 10 percent of the imported powdered milk is being used as baby food and the rest 90 percent is being used for other forms of consumption, he said.
Emran said farms are slapped with electricity bills at commercial rates although dairy belongs to the agro-based sector. “This increases cost of our operation. We demand waiver from electricity bills at commercial rates as dairy belongs to the agro-based sector,” he said.
He further said, “We also need support to import modern equipment for dairy farming.”
“Formulate and implementation a national dairy policy and National Dairy Development Board to create a platform for dairy development in the country,” said Newaz of BRAC Dairy.
Muniruzzaman suggested that providing easy and low-cost credit facility for the farmers and subsidy in feed and medicine, increasing facilities for animal husbandry and treatment, and taking steps to improve breed of high yielding cows.