Country faces serious calcium deficiency
Abu Sazzad: The current dairy product price in the retail market is one of the major obstacles for further flurishment of the sector, said the industry insiders.
Experts said, breeding, feeding, management, diseases and marketing are the main obstacles hindering the sector. The dairy sector has also not received adequate attention in respect of information and research with present policies and issues.
Milk production can only meet 50 percent of the current milk requirements. The demand for milk is growing at a faster rate than supply because of the rapid increase in population, creating a widening imbalance between demand and supply.
On the other hand, poor are failing to afford with the market price of the diary milk in the country. In the retail market, per kilograme liquid milk is being sold at Tk 70 which is high for the poor and underprivileged people across the country.
The current dairy mill production is not enough to meet the demand of the countrymen, for which, people especially poor and underprivileged are suffering from calcium deficiency, said the industry insiders.
Despite putting on board some impressive numbers, the dairy sector is faced with a situation that is dotted with dichotomy. The country is one of the major producers of milk in the world, the local industry is apparently growing both in terms of quantity and quality at a reasonable rate, but the shortfall is increasing at an alarming rate.
They said, inadequate dairy milk production has hit hard the poor people in the country as they can’t afford it due to its high price. As a result, they suffer from calcium deficiency related problems. While the demand for dairy milk is increasing day by day.
According to the latest data of the Department of Livestock, currently, Bangladesh is producing 72.75 lakh metric tonnes of liquid milk annually against its demand for 146.91 lakh metric tonnes creating a deficit of 74.16 lakh metric tonnes. Average milk consumption in Bangladesh is the lowest compared to neighbouring countries. Its cost is the highest in the region due to low yield and high production cost, making it almost impossible for the majority people to have the nutritious food item. In Bangladesh, per capita daily calorie intake through milk is only 24 kilocalories, while in Sri Lanka it is 57, 82 in Nepal, 104 in India and 265 in Pakistan, according to statistical yearbook of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Nutritionists say milk is an ideal food that easily provides large amounts of calcium and protein to the body but inadequate intake of milk is causing calcium deficiency and bone-related diseases like rickets.
They said nutrients of milk can be source from other food items but people are usually not conscious enough to get the nutrients from other sources. In the wake of the recent controversy over toxic melamine in milk, health and dairy experts said the best way to meet the milk demand is to expand dairy production at farm and household levels. According to FAO, average annual milk production in Bangladesh is 2,264,000 tonnes and only 13kg of milk is available for every person annually.
“First of all, we have low productivity of milk and then the prices are too high. Therefore, milk consumption by majority people of the country is almost impossible,” said nutritionists. It is found that mostly children suffer from rickets, a disease caused due to deficiency of calcium.
“Calcium deficiency is being seen a lot in recent times. More and more people are suffering from bone-related diseases.” The government should take strong steps to encourage dairy production at farm and household levels to meet the local demand because milk is an ideal food.
Talking to the Daily Industry, Rakibullah Siddique of Department of Livestock said at present per capita milk intake is only 125.59 ml while the required amount is 250 ml. according to FAO, in Bangladesh only 13kg of milk is available for every person annually. The rich people of the country however manage their adequate liquid milk but the poor and underprivileged people cannot afford the same due to its high price, he said. The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last year approved Tk 200 crore loans for dairy farming with a view to increase milk production in the country, he said. Wishing success in the loan distribution programme, he said marginal farmers would be more encouraged in rearing cows and producing milk. As a result, he said, the country would be self-reliant in milk production. Under the scheme, a total of 13 banks and financial institutions will provide dairy farmers with easy and low interest loan for rearing milking cows and their artificial breeding. Each dairy farmer will get the highest Tk two lakh loan for procuring maximum four heifers. Female and marginal farmers will get preference for receiving the loan, which is repayable in 54 months with 5 per cent interest, he said. According to our Sirajganj correspondent, although the prime minister declared disbursement of loans at the rate of 5 per cent for dairy farming, but they are not getting the loan at the said interest rates.
He claimed that banks do not disburse loan at the rate of 5 per cent to dairy farmers violating the instructions of the central bank. Rather the banks are allocating loan under SME loan at the rate of 10 per cent only to those dairy farmers who have large farms. It requires 4-5 cows for getting loans and they also ask for land registration documents which we do not have. As a result, the small dairy farmers fail to increase their milk production for want of adequate money. The rural people have not yet undertaken dairy on a commercial scale. Small farmers who rear only a small number of cows in rural area produce most of the milk. They are interested in getting the highest possible return for their milk. On the other hand, consumers want the best milk for their price.
Generally, rural milk producers sell their surplus milk to various marketing intermediaries prevailing locally who in turn sell the milk to the individual consumers, restaurants & tea stalls in the urban area. In this process marketing intermediaries buy the milk from the farmers at a cheap price and are said to appropriate large profit.