Around 6,20,000 small dairy and poultry farmers, who are reeling from economic shocks caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, will receive cash assistance under the Livestock and Dairy Development Project (LDDP) of the World Bank.
The decision is aimed at helping farmers maintain their milk, egg and meat production by overcoming the situation.
Sources at the Department of Livestock said the World Bank has approved a loan of $96 million under the LDDP. The majority of that fund will be spent on providing cash assistance to small farmers affected by the coronavirus in the country.
The World Bank has signed a deal with the government to provide a loan of Tk4,000 crore through the LDDP project for the development of the livestock sector. The project officially began in 2019.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus has dealt a heavy blow to poultry and dairy farmers in the country.
They incurred massive losses as the supply chain broke down during the government announced general holidays. Many of them are planning to give up the business after losing their capital.
The cash assistance will stimulate the affected farmers to continue their business.
Some 4,20,000 dairy farmers and 2 lakh poultry farmers will receive the cash support. The fund will be distributed to the farmers through banking channels.
Md Golam Rabbani, chief technical coordinator of this project, told The Business Standard, "The World Bank has approved $96 million for the LDDP project. During this pandemic, a couple of activities will be completed for the development of the dairy and poultry sectors."
He continued, "One of the tasks is to provide cash assistance to some affected farmers so that they can continue their operations."
When asked about the amount to be paid to the victims, the official said, "I don't want to say the amount right now. We will make an announcement once the list is ready."
Concerned people of the project said a five-member committee has been formed in each upazila. The committees are headed by upazila nirbahi officers (UNOs), while upazila livestock officers are made the member secretary.
They will prepare a list of affected farmers.
The list will include only poultry farmers and those involved in small-scale dairy production. However, farmers who fatten cows for commercial purposes will not be eligible for receiving the assistance, they said.
It was also informed that the World Bank will release the fund once the list is ready.
A portion of the fund will be used to buy masks, gloves and other essential items to protect the health of the concerned officials. Besides, it will also focus on launching a campaign to dispel misconceptions such as spreading Covid-19 through cattle.
According to sources, local poultry and dairy farmers are selling milk, eggs and meat in a combined marketing system by renting cars during this pandemic period. They also paid the rents of those vehicles.
So, plans were underway to use a portion of the fund to pay car rents of a certain time. Besides, modern machines to process milk will also be bought from this fund.
Meanwhile, an estimation of the Bangladesh Poultry Industry Central Council (BPICC), an organisation of poultry traders, says that dairy and poultry farmers have incurred losses worth Tk1,600 crore between March 26 and April 30.
It happened as they could not market their produces. Besides, another estimation of BPICC says that the average production of broiler chicken dropped by two/ thirds in April.
Similarly, dairy farmers and small entrepreneurs have also suffered huge losses as they could not sell milk.
Besides, many farmers have sold milk at a nominal price. The milk processing companies stopped buying milk at the beginning of the Covid-19 infection.
Dr Abdul Jabbar Sikder, director general of the Department of Livestock Services said, "We want small farmers to survive in their business. Or else, the production of milk, eggs and meat will decrease. Our goal is to bringing them back to production."