They also said that small and mid-sized farmers failed to make any profit during this period
Increased prices of cattle feed, as well as rising maintenance costs, intensified by the Covid-19 pandemic have forced approximately 20% of the country's dairy farms to close down in the last six months.
“The sting of animal feed price hike is unbearable for medium and small farmers. Many farmers have closed their farms, and the rest of them are awaiting to close. The cost of producing a litre of milk is Tk50-55 alone,” said Mir Kashem Ali, president of Faridpur Dairy Farmers Association.
A few months ago, a sack containing a maund of high quality bran, or cattle feed, used to cost Tk950-1,000. But now it ranges between Tk1,250 and Tk1,450. Farmers are losing Tk50,000-70,000 a month as a result, he lamented. “Low milk prices are also affecting them.”
The Bangladesh Dairy Farmers’ Association (BDFA) officials also told about the farmers' woes to Dhaka Tribune.
They also said that small and mid-sized farmers failed to make any profit during this period.
Mohammad Shah Emran, general secretary of BDFA, said that dairy farming has been going through its hardest period, despite bumper production.
He demanded soft loans for dairy farmers at low interest immediately, as well as supply chain facilitation to accelerate the post-pandemic recovery of the sector, he also said.
“Many young people are taking up dairy farming, which is a positive sign for the economy, as the potential was always there,'' he added.
"Earlier, dairy farming was a profitable venture, but now with rising feed and maintenance costs our operations have been greatly affected. Due to high feed prices, we cannot feed our animals properly, for which milk production has also decreased," said Dalim Miah Shwapon, another dairy farmer from Keraniganj.
"Often due to lack of a proper storage facility, we cannot store the milk. It often goes down the drain if unsold, which has often been the case due to the pandemic. We sell to restaurants for Tk40-45 a litre, whereas milk producing companies do not sell for less than Tk70-75 a litre," he said.
Milk production in Bangladesh amounted to 10.68 million metric tons in the 2019-20 fiscal year, according to the Department of Livestock Services.
Between 2010 and 2020, the domestic production of milk has grown five times, 16.25% annually.
Abu Reza M Muzareba, associate professor of University of Dhaka (DU), who delved deeper into the dairy market in Bangladesh for his research on the sector, said that the government must help the dairy farmers with training facilitation, which will increase farmers' efficiency and add value to their production.
"Young people jumped into this sector and created a bridge between buyer and producer amid during the pandemic, via Facebook pages. I believe that at the marginal level, structural reform is required to help farmers attain better prices," he pointed out.