Country faces serious calcium deficiency
Abu Sazzad: The milk consumption is gradually declining in Bangladesh resulting severe calcium deficiency of the common people. Milk consumption in many poor and developing countries, more precisely the neighboring countries, is higher than Bangladesh.
Per capita milk consumption is 68.70 liters in a year in India, in Nepal 41 liters, in Maldives 79 liters, in Pakistan 159 liters, while in Bangladesh it is only 9.9 ml or grams, as per the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) survey report.
The global per capita milk consumption is 108 liters per year. Consumption is highest in Finland which is 361 liters for a person annually. The milk consumption in Canada 206 liters.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends, a person should drink 250 ml or 250 grams of milk every day to get the required calcium and protein.
The per capita milk consumption decreases significantly in Bangladesh since 2005 said a latest Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics survey report.
A recent survey – Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) of BBS also revealed that the per capita per day intake of milk is almost nine fold less than what the WHO recommends.
In Bangladesh, per capita per day milk consumption stands at only 9.9 grams or ml, states HIES-in its 2016 survey report.
In Bangladesh, the per capita per day milk consumption was 33.7 ml in 2010, and 32.4 ml in 2005, according to the two data of HIES published in the aforementioned years.
Industry insiders said, average milk consumption in Bangladesh is the lowest in the region. 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.
The nutrition experts shared their concerns regarding the matter, and said less consumption of milk is putting the country’s nutrition scenario in jeopardy.
“This data shows that our people are not getting enough animal protein that they require every day, thus they are affected through malnutrition”, said Dhaka University Institute of Nutrition and Food Science Director Professor Dr Nazma Shaheen. She also pointed out that the worst victims of the less milk consumption are the children.
“The meager per capita per day milk consumption shows that our children are not getting enough milk once breastfeeding stops at two years of age,” she said.
Such poor consumption of milk, which is one of the core sources of animal protein, is leading to shorter growth, low-weight, and acute malnutrition in children.
Expressing fear over further decrease in milk consumption in future, Nazma Shaheen said the recent row over pasteurized milk, will further discourage the consumers from consuming milk.
According to a Daily Industry report, the local dairies are able to fulfill only 50 per cent milk demand, as a result, country is facing serious calcium deficiency.
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.
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 80 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.
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.
On the other hand, according to Bangladesh Dairy Farmers Association, in FY 2010-11, in the country’s demand for milk was 1.3 corer tons and against the demand the farmers could produce only 29.5 lakh tons.
In 2017-18, the demand increased to 1.5 corer tons and the local farmers could produce 94 lakh tons of milk, he said, informing that right now the amount of milk production deficit was 56 tons.
Imran Hossain, president of the association also sought incentives for the local dairy farms and 20 per cent subsidy to increase milk production to meet the growing demand of the milk in the country.
Meanwhile, nutritionists said 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. 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 told the Daily Industry that 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.
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 2 lac 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 and 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.
However, the lack of adequate cooling facilities in Bangladesh for the transportation of milk make it the critical link in the value chain stumping production from reaching final consumers. The demand for electricity in Bangladesh is also facing a deficit making it an unreliable power source for those rural areas who may not have access to electricity, or face regular blackouts. Harnessing renewable energy sources such as solar, biogas, and other forms are key to integrating a proper cooling facility into the supply chain.
Care must also be taken to assess and combat the decline of consumer confidence in the local industry, which has pushed large enterprises to sourcing milk powder from abroad due to concerns about quality in the domestic markets. The main reason behind this is again due to low yields of milk per cow pushing producers to adulterate produced milk. Awareness campaigns on maintaining health of cattle is also needed to ensure that small and medium scaled farmers don’t overdose their cattle with antibiotics, as found in a recent study, in order to avoid the high costs of veterinary services.
Sources said, over the last seven years, the number of dairy farms including registered and unregistered increased to 12 lakh and about 94 lakh people were engaged in dairy farms business directly or indirectly.
Leaders of Bangladesh Dairy Farmers Association said we don’t get any incentives form the government while we have to pay 10 per cent income tax. The government of India is providing cash incentive to the dairy farmers but it is not applicable for Bangladesh.
They further said that the country’s dairy industry was being destroyed by importing low-grade milk mixed with vegetable fat.Separate researches, conducted by Dhaka University, and Bangladesh Food Safety Authority, found antibiotics, lead, and cadmium in milk, prompting massive outcry from different quarters.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh is forcing to import powder milk to meet the local demand and their quality is questionable. Anyhow, imports of powdered milk and dairy products add considerable costs and it’s estimated that the country imports more than 100,000 tons of powdered milk and dairy products, spending more than US$237 million, according to BBS and Bangladesh Bank Data.