The country's dairy industry has grown over the years but it is still far off the mark to meet the current demand for milk for various reasons.
The production of milk surged by more than 333 per cent in the fiscal year (FY) 2018-19 from the level in the FY 2008-09, still far below the requirement.
The dairy farmers produced about 9.92 million tonnes of milk against the demand for 15.20 million tonnes in FY '19, according to the Department of Livestock Services (DLS).
The milk production stood at just 2.29 million tonnes in the FY '09, the DLS data revealed.
A total of 70,981 livestock farms (ruminants) registered with the department until August 2019, the data suggest.
Of them, about 59,274 were dairy farms, 4,201 goat-rearing farms and 3,753 sheep farms.
Shah Emran, general secretary of Bangladesh Dairy Farmers' Association (BDFA), said the dairy farmers have been raising milk production sharply since FY '09 despite facing so many hurdles and not getting enough support from the government.
"However, we are yet to meet the expected demand", he told the FE.
In this connection, he urged the government to impose anti-dumping duty on powdered milk as it is hurting the local industry seriously, said Mr Emran.
The imported milk is substandard and being brought in from mostly Denmark and other European Union (EU) countries, he said.
The government should provide subsidy, incentives and loans to dairy farmers to help produce grass and other green fodder so that milk production can be raised to the expected level, the BDFA secretary said.
Talking to the FE, Dr. Md. Giasuddin, Head of Animal Health Research Division and Director of National Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza (OIE Reference Laboratory) of Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute (BLRI), said the main problem with this industry right now is that the marginal farmers are not getting due prices for their milk as middlemen are grabbing the bigger share of the pie.
About 30 per cent of the people are not habituated to drink milk regularly and that is another problem facing the farmers, he said.
Only 5.0 to 10 per cent of dairy milk is being processed, which is collected by the middlemen but not directly from the farmers. That deals a blow to the farmers, the researcher said.
About 95 per cent of the milk produced is being used in making sweets, Giasuddin said.
However, propaganda relating to dairy milk is hurting the farmers severely, he said.
On the other hand, the marginal farmers are being losers due to the foot and mouth disease (FMD). They are not getting adequate vaccines for their animals, he said.
As Bangladesh has now 25 million cattle, it needs 50 million vaccines every year. But the country can provide only 6.0-7.0 million vaccines, very little compared to the requirement, he added.
The country needs at least 80 per cent vaccine coverage to save the animals and thus protect the farmers from incurring heavy losses every year, Dr. Giasuddin said. He also emphasised an effective role of the government to this end.
The government should encourage the private sector to import vaccines as required from abroad, the animal health expert said.
Smuggling in live animals from neighbouring countries should be halted fully, he added.
Dr ABM Khaleduzzaman, DLS assistant director (farm), said the F1 hybrids which are offspring of the high yielding cattle brought from abroad are not yielding the expected level of milk. So the country is witnessing such a deficiency.
An F1 hybrid (also known as filial 1 hybrid) is the first filial generation of offspring of distinctly different parental types.
The department has undertaken various projects to eradicate the FMD, mastitis and peste des petits ruminants (PPR) which is also known as 'goat plague' from the country, he told the FE.
Through the projects, the DLS will be able to enhance its monitoring at the grassroots level, the assistant director said.
He also mentioned the DLS is trying to increase the vaccine coverage up to 70-80 per cent.
Dr Khaleduzzaman laid emphasis on increasing production of vaccines locally, strict monitoring at the field level, cattle movement control, creating awareness and stopping cattle import from other countries.
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