Packaged milk of fourteen companies has been banned in a High Court (HC) order on Sunday. According to the order the listed companies have to stop production, distribution, sales, and purchase of pasteurized milk for 5 weeks.
The ban on packaged milk production is going to hit lives of thousands of dairy farmers in Pabna and Sirajganj districts hard. As a sign of their frustration, a number of dairy farmers spilled about four hundred liters of milk on the streets in Bhangura Bazar in Pabna on Monday.
Almost 20,000 dairy farmers in few selected areas of Pabna and Sirajganj districts provide milk to four packaged milk-producing companies, including the government-owned Milkvita, also blacklisted by HC.
About half a million liters of milk are produced every day in these areas.
After the HC ban on their production, the packaged milk-producing companies already stopped collecting milk from the dairy farmers in these areas.
Under the situation, the dairy farmers are finding it difficult to get new buyers, even at reduced prices of 10 to 12 taka per liter.
The economy of dairy farmers is heavily dependent on selling of milk to the packaged milk-producing companies. In many instances, the dairy farmers keep their firms running on loans from banks and NGOs.
Khokon Biswas, a dairy farmer from Bhangura of Pabna, said that the companies are no longer buying milk from them. This situation has seriously threatened their everyday livelihood.
In 1973, the government formed an association of dairy farmers, under the banner Milkvita, in some selected sub-districts, including Bhangura, Faridpur, Bera, Santhia, Shahjadpur, Ullapara, Belkuchi, among others. Milk vita went into production in 1975.
Presently, apart from thee association formed and established by Milkvita, there are about 1,500 other active associations of dairy farmers in Pabna and Sirajganj with 19,000 regular and12, 000 irregular members.
The number of enlisted dairy farms in Pabna and Sirajganj stands at 20,000.
Milk vita alone, with its base in Baghabari in Sirajganj, collects about two lac liters of milk from these farms, while other dairy milk-producing companies like Pran Dairy, Fresh, Aarong, among others, collect about two lac liters of milk.