A human being requires 250 millilitres of milk daily. But, at the moment, as per production, we’re getting 165 millilitres. According to the Livestock Department, of the total demand for milk in the country, 64.68 per cent was produced in the fiscal year 2018-19. A large part of the demand is not being met. As a result, powder milk is being imported from abroad. So it is evident that there is potentially a huge market for milk in our country. On the other hand, the demand for safe organic food is increasing day by day. Consumers want assurance of safe milk. Given these factors, a large number of entrepreneurs are thinking about the potential of this sector. The Dutch Dairy Farm, set up on 102 bighas (33.71 acre) of land at Satgharia village in Louhajang upazila of Munshiganj, is a consequence of such innovative thought for development of local dairy industry. I had been thinking about going to the farm for a year. One morning in last December, I arrived there. Just as I thought, it looked like what I had seen in the Netherlands, Belgium and also in England. It has been truly fascinating. It is exactly how the industry should be planned and what it should look like. Started only one and a half years ago, the farm has already shown good output.
Once upon a time, when we heard the word ‘cow farm’, the sight of cows lining up in a rural farm always came to mind. I was wondering when we will use machines to collect milk in our country’s dairy farms. Dutch Dairy Farm seems to point out the change. They understood that an international standard cow farm can be developed by maintaining certain rules and using modern technology. Although it is not new to the audience of ‘Hridoye Mati O Manush’. Surely you remember the De Marke dairy farm in the Netherlands, or the latest cow farms in countries including England, Belgium and South Korea. You must have seen these modern farms in programmes of ‘Hridoye Mati O Manush’.
On May 5 of 2018, 75 cows arrived from Sydney, Australia, at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on a chartered plane of Malaysian Airlines. Cows arrived in chartered aircraft before too, but in terms of number, this was a unique example. This farm started its journey maintaining an international standard with those 75 cows. More cows were added later. Now, the farm has more than 1200 cows. Dear readers, many of you have seen the smart farm of livestock. Specifically, you have seen the farms using IoT (Internet of Things) monitored by organizations called Digi Cow and Sunflower Limited. Information is easily received from a bolus in the belly or a chip on the neck of a cow to a mobile phone. One can get all the information related to the cow from any place. The use of the Internet of Things on this farm is another exception. In a few steps, the bolus is applied to the belly (stomach) of the cow. As a result, any physical changes of the cow can be easily read. The information is more accurate. This keeps the cows healthy, reduces costs and brings more profit.
Mohammad Gias Ahmed, director of Dutch Dairy Farm, looks after the farm. He has been involved with the dairy farm business for almost two decades. After studying in agriculture in the UK and the USA, he received training in the Netherlands. He showed me the entire farm. He said that there are more 1200 cows, both local and foreign, at the farm. There is a cow mattress on the floor of the cowshed. It looks like a carpet. As a result, cows do not feel pain while moving. It is comfortable for sleeping too. Here, hardly any disease occurs. The humidity, temperature and air are automatically controlled in the cowsheds. There are also modern fans to give cool air to the cows. Gias Ahmed said that each cow in the farm is given sufficient solid food, grass and water. In the farm, cow feed is made from a mixture of nutritious items, maintaining 100 per cent quality. The grass is cut with automatic machines. Ideal feed is made by mixing raw corn with other ingredients.
There is a misconception that foreign cows will not survive in the weather of this country. Gias said that he has proved the notion wrong. Foreign cows cannot provide enough milk – is another misconception. You will be surprised to know that almost all the 600 cows here give milk. Each cow gives milk from 35 to 45 litres. If any cow’s milk providing rate is dropped to 20 litres, then that cow is excluded. There is an ultramodern milking parlour. Milk can be collected from 12 cows at a time there. They are collecting an average of 15,000 litres of milk a day. Milk Vita, Rosh Sweets and Confectionery and several other enterprises of Dhaka collect milk from this farm.
At another shed, there are huge bulls. Those are for ‘fattening’. The animals are raised in this shed for meat. I had a conversation with Asif Mridha, manager of the farm. He said they have further plans to enter the international beef market.
For the last 10 years, I have been giving you glimpses of such developments in agriculture. Agriculture is becoming part of modern and smart trade of the big entrepreneurs. Our agriculture today is truly trade and investment-oriented. It is now the time to shape agriculture in the light of international quality. It is precisely from this realization that enterprises such as the ABA Group have started doing agriculture. This is quite promising. It has many possibilities as well as surprises awaiting Bangladesh’s agriculture production sector. Especially in view of the fourth industrial revolution, the connection of information and communication technology is very much needed in any production sector. This new agricultural initiative has set a precedent for success in this regard. I believe that there will be more and more world-class enterprises in agriculture. Through this, farming will get better, marking a new era of safe food production.