Dairy Farmers Protest as Milk Vita Halts Collection in Natore

BANGLADESH - The dairy cooling centre of Milk Vita in Natore has halted collection of milk until further notice, for not meeting the acceptable quality standard and quota.
calendar icon 16 February 2018
clock icon 3 minute read

A notice, signed by Bangladesh Milk Producers Co-operative Union Limited Deputy General Manager Rehana Rahman, was issued in this regard on Wednesday.

After viewing the notice Thursday morning, local dairy farmers protested Milk Vita’s decision by dumping milk on the street in front of the dairy cooling centre.

The farmers also demanded the involvement of Milk Vita authorities for lifting the ban on milk collection, adding that the order will cause serious financial harm to them.

In 2002, Bangladesh Milk Producers Co-operative Union Limited, under the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives, launched the dairy cooling centre in Natore with a capacity of 5000 litres.

Initially, a 20-member team collected milk from dairy farmers under 67 cooperative societies. However, in recent times the number of cooperative societies dropped to just 13.

The Milk Vita authorities also believe that milk currently being supplied by dairy farmers is of sub-par quality.

This has lead to the dairy cooling centre halting milk collection under further notice.

Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, president of Bholar Haat Cooperative Society, Manik Chandra Sarkar, said: “When the initiative started, the cooling centre authorities offered loans to dairy farmers and managed healthcare for cattle.

“The milk production at that time peaked at five to seven thousand litres per week.

“However, the farmers are not getting any facilities for the past 5-6 years. Furthermore, in the retail market, a litre of milk is sold for Tk50-55, while the dairy cooling centre purchases milk for Tk35-40 per litre.”

He pointed out that the centre did not collect milk one or two days each week, which hurt the farmers financially. Recently, the generator of the cooling centre became inoperable, leading to the shutdown of the facility for more than two and a half months.

Under these circumstances, dairy farmers are losing interest in the trade and leaving the business. Some of the remaining farmers are selling milk to other customers and not Milk Vita.

Livelihoods in jeopardy

Responding to a query, Mr Sarkar claimed that he owns 10 cows, and took out a loan of Tk1.5 lakh from Janata Bank. The daily milk output of his farm is 25-30 litres.

However, the Milk Vita cooling centre only buys up to 20 litres of milk from him per day. He then sells the leftover milk elsewhere.

Mr Sarkar also revealed that there are more than a hundred dairy farmers selling milk under 13 cooperative societies, almost all of whom are indebted to different banks. He pointed out that if Milk Vita halts collection of milk from them, they will go bankrupt.

The dairy farmer told the Dhaka Tribune that despite paying low prices, Milk Vita buys milk in bulk.

“If Milk Vita continues to refuse to buy milk, it will be difficult for the farmers to sell it anywhere else,” he added.

He later claimed: “If the authorities once again start providing facilities such as loans to the dairy farmers, and adjust their prices with the retail market, the cooling centre will not suffer any disruptions in fulfilling its quota.”

Mr Sarkar told the correspondent that the local dairy farmers have recently discussed these matters with the cooling centre authorities in a meeting.

Acknowledging that a meeting was held in this regard, acting in-charge of the Milk Vita dairy cooling centre in Natore Sekendar Ali said: “I have relayed matters discussed in the meeting to the company high-ups.”

Hundreds of dairy farmers in Natore are dependent on the cooling centre for their livelihood. The sudden halt of milk collection has left them in a precarious situation.

The farmers are urging government intervention to resolve the ongoing crisis in dairy sector in Natore.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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