Aggrieved dairy farm entrepreneurs in Chattogram have staged protests demanding control of animal feed price hikes, imposition of regulatory duty on imported powdered milk, subsidies at the farm level, and a ban on meat imports.
More than 500 farmers from Chattogram city and district took part in the protest organised by the Chattogram Dairy Farmers Association in front of the city's press club on Thursday.
Addressing the rally, Nazim Uddin Haider, president of the association, said dairy entrepreneurs have been meeting the country's demand for meat and milk, but animal feed prices have risen more than 200% in the last two years, while the price of milk has not increased.
"Farmers are having to count losses as the cost of production is higher than the price of milk. Day after day, farmers are selling their cows at a loss and many farms have already closed," he added.
He sought the intervention of the government to save the farmers in this sector.
Khokon Ghosh from Enayet Bazar in the city, who has been rearing cows for 35 years, was present at the rally.
He said he had 12 cows in his farm before the Covid-19 epidemic started. He used to get 100 litres of milk every day from the farm and run the family successfully. He had two assistants too. However, since the epidemic, the price of milk started to drop while animal feed prices jumped.
"I incurred losses as my production cost was higher than the sale price of milk. So, I sold 10 of my 12 cows. I laid off my staff too. Still, I cannot feed the cows properly as feed prices are too high for me to bear," he said.
Chattogram Dairy Farmers Association General Secretary Malik Mohammad Omar said at the rally, "To save farmers from the suffering they have been going through for the last two years, it is necessary to control the price of animal feed, provide subsidies at the farm level, and stop the importing of meat. Otherwise, most farms are likely to close down soon, unable to bear farm expenses."
At the rally, the farmers raised nine demands to the government. Earlier, on May 25, the farmers wrote a letter to the prime minister regarding these demands.
According to the association, there are more than 2,000 dairy farms in Chattogram where there are over 10,000 cows. However, since Covid-19, at least 300 farms have shut down in the wake of the feed price hike.