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COVID-19 fallout

Dairy farmers seek government bailout

FE REPORT | October 26, 2020 00:00:00

The Bangladesh Dairy Farmers Association (BDFA) on Sunday demanded introduction of sales of animal feeds at subsidised rates to help the country's dairy industry survive the current crisis.

The BDFA raised a set of demands including subsidy to dairy farms for electricity consumption, introduction of renting farmland and declaring a 20-year tax holiday for the sector.

Placing the 10-point demand at a press conference at the National Press Club in the city, president of the association, Imran Hossain, said the increase in prices of animal feeds has made it difficult for the farmers to run their business sustainably. He pointed out that the price of wheat bran now stands at Tk 31 per kilogram (kg) compared to Tk 24 a kg a year ago.

"Amid the Covid-19 crisis, when the farmers are having a tough time, such hike of the feed prices will result in closure of many dairy farms," he cautioned.

In such a situation, the association leaders said, the government should utilise the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) for selling dairy feeds at subsidised rates to support the farmers.

Bangladesh has in recent years attained almost self-sufficiency in meat after India imposed a ban on the export of cattle heads. However, price fluctuations during the Eid festival reportedly made the farmers frustrated.

In view of the situation and for the sustainability of the business, the association leaders also demanded a complete ban on the import of meat to protect the domestic industry until it reaches a competitive stage.

The association's general secretary Shah Emran and vice-president Ali Azam Rahman Shibly were also present at the press conference.

The BDFA put forward its 11-point demand that includes increasing the import duty on bulk filled milk by 100 per cent and providing loans to the dairy farmers at low interest rates, increasing powdered milk plants, stop production of unhealthy condensed milk, formation of dairy board and making services of animal vaccines, medicine and medical care easier and available.

The dairy farmers produced about 9.92 million tonnes of milk against the demand for 15.20 million tonnes in fiscal year 2018-19 (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 mentioned.

Of the total, about 59,274 were dairy farms, 4,201 goat-rearing farms and 3,753 sheep farms.

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