Mamun's dairy farm in Ghoradaho village of Sujanagar upazila in Pabna, has not only become self-reliant but also provides jobs to several unemployed youths in the area.
In 2012, he bought four hybrid milk cows and started a dairy farm at home. The farm has gradually become the largest in the upazila and now has 20 dairy cows.
Mamun, a 38-year-old, employs nine people on his farm.
Not only Mamun, but thousands of unemployed youths in Pabna are rid of the curse of unemployment having set up dairy farms.
Dairy farms have now sprung up in most parts of the district, including Bera, Santhia, Faridpur, Bhangura, Chatmohar and Sujanagar upazila. The district has now become the main cow milk producing region in the country.
According to the district livestock office, there are around 20,000 small and large scale dairy farms in Pabna.
On average, about eight to 10 lakh litres of cow's milk is produced every day in the district.
Several milk distribution and processing companies, including state-run Milk Vita, Pran Dairy, Aarong Milk, Farm Fresh, Aftab Dairy, and Rangpur Dairy, have set up milk collection centres in the region.
These companies gather an average of about five to six lakh litres of milk every day. The rest of the milk is sold in local markets to chhana (fresh curd) makers and sweetmeat shops.
Local chhana makers use more than one lakh litres of milk every day. At present, there are more than 100 chhana making establishments in Pabna.
More than 1,000 people are employed in these production centres, making about 400 maunds of chhana every day.
According to these chhana makers, a maund of milk, a little under 40kg, is needed to make eight kilogrammes of chhana. Around 60 to 70 maunds of chhana is produced by these businesses and supplied to local sweetmeat shops every day. The remaining 350 maunds of chhana is supplied to various parts of the country, including Dhaka, Chattogram, and Bogura.
Chhana sells for Tk250 to Tk300 per kg, wholesale.
Visiting Nimai Ghosh, a chhana maker of Selandah village in Santhia upazila, we found milk being boiled in three large pots to make chhana.
The chhana is packed in sacks and sent to Dhaka.
Nimai said 12 people work at his factory, making an average of 25 maunds of chhana every day.
Soon after it's made, the chhana is sent to Dhaka in pickup vans.
However, he said he was in financial trouble due to the transport crisis and the closure of hotels and restaurants across the country in the Covid-19 pandemic.
Md Saiful Islam, president of the milk producers' cooperative society of Faridpur upazila, said 40 to 45 maunds of milk is supplied by his association to a Milk Vita plant in Baghabari, Sirajganj.
In addition, 30 to 40 dairy farmers of the association sell about the same amount of milk in the local market.
But now the number of customers has dwindled in the local market due to the lockdown, said Saiful.
"If the lockdown continues, we will have more problems selling milk in local markets and supplying it to different parts of the country," he said.
Dairy farmers would have to face huge losses, he added.
The cost of producing milk has also gone up due to higher prices of dairy fodder, he continued.
Abdul Jalil, a dairy farmer in Bhangura said, even though farmers want to sell milk to sweetmeat shops and chhana makers, these businesses are no longer willing to buy milk, their businesses hard hit by the pandemic.
So dairy farmers are now having to take the milk cream from milk, to sell to ghee producers.
"The process of making cream requires a huge amount of milk, and in the process, milk is being wasted," said Jalil.
Dairy farmers are urging the government to provide them subsidies and bank loans on easy terms to tackle the crisis.
Dr Al Mamun Hossain, Pabna livestock officer, referring to the ongoing crisis as a global crisis, advised the farmers to use alternative methods to preserve milk.
But the livestock office could not provide an effective solution to preserve a huge amount of milk.
However, Kabir Mahmood, deputy commissioner of Pabna, assured dairy farmers all kinds of cooperation.
He said not only the dairy business, but all other sectors were suffering due to the pandemic.
"The district administration has always stood by the people. A list of affected farmers in Pabna is being made and all sorts of assistance will be provided to affected farmers," said Kabir.
Follow us on Google News