The country is going to attain self-sufficiency in dairy products due to various initiatives taken by the government, sources said. After attaining self-sufficiency in fish and meat production, the government is now attaching importance to dairy farms in order to provide people with more nutritious food. Apart from meeting nutrition demand of country’s growing population, the dairy industry is also playing a vital role in creating job opportunities for the huge number of unemployed educated youths.
It is also playing vital role in the country’s financial sector. As the government has undertaken several projects to boost milk and meat production, number of dairy farms increased to 1.2 million from 0.2 million few years back. Quality baby food, pasteurized liquid milk, butter, sweat meat, cheese, ghee, chocolate milk, milk mixed with mango are being produced from the country’s dairy farms, Bangladesh Dairy Farmers’ Association (BDFA) and Fisheries and Livestock ministry sources said.
According to them, there is a 30 percent deficit of milk against the demand for 15 million metric tonnes. Of the total 70 percent milk is produced in the country while 30 percent is exported from abroad. In the last one decade, country’s milk production has increased by over 30 percent as the government has undertaken various projects across the country, aiming to meet the country’s growing demand for milk and meat.
Besides, the government has also taken initiatives to improve the lifestyle and living standards of rural poor by making them self-reliant through cattle and buffalo rearing under various projects and thus meet the growing demand of meat and milk for building a healthy nation. Many dairy farms in individual and broader level have grown up in the country in the last 15 years.
A total of 1200000registered and unregistered dairy farms have grown up in the country. At least one crore people directly and indirectly are involved in this sector. Besides, the government has taken the Livestock and Dairy Development Project(LDDP) at a cost of Taka 4,280 crore for the development of livestockand dairy sector.
The five-year project began in January this year and it willbe completed by 2023. The main objectives of the project are – productivity improvement, marketparticipation, resilience of small-holder farmers, agro-entrepreneurs,operating in selected livestock systems and value chains in the target areas. The dairy farms have grown up in Sirajganj, Pabna, Shatkhira, Natore, Jhenidah, Chattrogram and other places in the country. When contacted Bangladesh BDFA General Secretary Shah Emran said the dairy sector is contributing 3.50 per cent to the GDP.
“The government and private sector will have to come forward with integrated plans to boost up this sector,” he said. However, he demanded imposition of 50 per cent duty on import of powdered milk from the next fiscal year to help protect the local industry. “We are also seeking imposition of anti-dumping duty on imported powdered milk to protect the industry from unfair competition,” he said, adding the country's milk production increased to 9.4 million tonnes in last 8 years from 2.9 million tonnes.
“The demand for milk is 15 million tonnes. We have a shortage of 5.6 million tonnes which we could cover within three years,” BDFA General Secretary said.
He said highly subsidised foreign powdered milk is making the competition uneven in the country. “We are also demanding of the government consider dairy as an agricultural sector,” he said.
He said 50 percent duty should be imposed on powdered milk (excluding lactose-free and vegetable fat-free baby food) to save the local industry. “We are producing milk to meet our own demand overcoming dependence on others side by side with mostly meetingnutrition of mothers and babies,” he said, adding the demand of milk will increases if people are aware regarding the nutrition milk contains.
According to the BDFA, country’s powdered milk contains milk fat while imported milk has vegetable fat (like palm oil fat) which might be harmful to both adults and children. Dairy farmers in the countries like Australia, Denmark and New Zealand get 65-70 per cent incentives against their production, the association member said.
They added these highly incentivised produce has been creating uneven and unhealthy competition with our local milk as we get no incentives." They said that the potentials of dairy sector should be utilized by providing grants to the farmers and reducing the production cost of milk. Many educated unemployed youths are coming to this sector as they feel if they run the dairy farms, they will be benefitted. According to the BDFA, many big companies are also investing in the dairy farm sector.