Dairy farms to get a boost
The government has taken steps to develop the country's dairy sector that did not receive adequate attention from policymakers in the past decades, said stakeholders.
The fisheries and livestock ministry is drafting a law to set up a dairy development board.
The ministry is also working to finalise the National Dairy Development Policy that was drafted earlier, said officials.
“We are working on both for development of the dairy sector,” said Md Nazrul Anwar, additional secretary of the ministry.
Of the two, the ministry is currently giving more importance to framing the law, under which the organisation will be set up. The body is expected to operate autonomously and steer growth of the sector, he said.
The move comes a decade after the government shared plans of establishing a Dairy Development Board in its National Livestock Development Policy in 2007.
Dairy processors and analysts hailed the initiative and said formation of a separate board will encourage dairy farming, boost milk production and thus, cut import dependence to meet annual requirement.
In recent years, milk production has increased, owing to rising commercial farming of cattle for milk and meat production.
Yet, domestic production remains largely insufficient to meet annual demand for milk and milk based foods.
Bangladesh requires 1.46 crore tonnes of milk a year, while it can produce 52.75 lakh tonnes of milk, according to data from Department of Livestock (DLS).
The country imports nearly 70,000 tonnes of powder milk a year to meet the rest of the demand, according to Mohammad Anisur Rahman, director of the Dairy and Food Enterprise of BRAC.
Industry stakeholders said despite having quite a large number of cattle, Bangladesh faces an insufficient production of milk for a host of factors, including a lack of improved cow breeds, skilled manpower and credit support; scarcity of feed and fodder; and limited veterinary services.
Stakeholders said the DLS currently deals with livestock or cattle related issues. But there is no organisation that solely deals with the sector's issues, such as infrastructure, transport and tax matters.
The dairy development board will be a big platform for farmers and processors where they can raise their problems for resolution, said Rahman.
Dairy is a promising sector but its prospects remain untapped, he added.
“It has a multifarious impact. We should visualise that,” he said, citing the impact of cattle farming on the rural economy, leather industry, health and nutrition.
Prof Md Nurul Islam of Department of Dairy Science, Bangladesh Agricultural University, said the country has become self-sufficient in crops, but it lags in meeting its requirement for quality, nutritious food.
“This is good that policy makers feel the need. We will get a healthy nation if we can increase milk production,” he said, citing that a person requires 250ml of milk a day.
Islam also suggested establishing a National Dairy Research Institute.
Mostafa Nurul Islam, former team leader of Strengthening the Dairy Value Chain (SDVC) Project of CARE Bangladesh, said other sectors of agriculture have developed a lot, but dairy is falling behind.
Formulation of a dairy development policy along with a board will guide development of the sector, he added.
Dr Md Ainul Haque, director general of DLS, said establishment of a dairy board would be established with the objective to make Bangladesh self sufficient in milk and milk based foods.