Milk consumption lowest, prices highest in region | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 06, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 06, 2008

Fao Report on Bangladesh

Milk consumption lowest, prices highest in region

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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.
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 had 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.
Low production results in the import of bulk amount of powdered milk. Bangladesh spent about Tk 1,500 crore to import 42,583.46 tonnes of powdered milk during the last fiscal year, said Tureen Afroze of United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).
"On an average, a Bangladeshi cow reportedly produces around 200kg of milk a year, which is 30 percent lower than an Indian cow's production figures. This low milk yield is mainly caused by poor livestock feed and low milk production of the common breeds of cattle in Bangladesh," says a study of International Farm Comparison Network (IFCN) on milk production in Bangladesh.
According to dairy industry insiders, each kilogramme of milk on an average sells between Tk 40 and Tk 45 but in India it is around Tk 22. A litre of pasteurized milk is sold for around Tk 47 in Bangladesh.
Milk prices at farms of Bangladesh are about 40 to 50 percent higher than those of Indian and New Zealand farms, the IFCN study said.
"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 Prof M Nazmul Hasan of Institute of Food and Nutrition Science at Dhaka University.
Citing a survey at Chokoria in Cox's Bazar, he said the survey found that nine percent of the children in that area suffered from rickets.
"Calcium deficiency is being seen a lot in recent times. More and more people are suffering from bone-related diseases," Nazmul told The Daily Star.
He suggested that 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.
Mohammad Ali, general manager of Brac Dairy and Food Project, told The Daily Star that shortage of fodder and low productivity of cattle are the two major factors that hold the dairy sector back.
"The dairy farms are mainly located in northern Bangladesh," he said, adding that the government could provide incentives like loan arrangements for farmers to rear cows at household level.
Besides, cooperatives could be formed at village level to develop milk marketing system and ensure that the dairy farmers get due price of milk, he said, adding, "Dairy farms could reduce our unemployment problem."
The government should come forward and help set up infrastructure for milk preservation, Mohammad Ali added.

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