The Financial Express

Setting rural milk trade right

| Updated: December 30, 2020 23:56:07

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Setting rural milk trade right

Few adults in the country's rural areas are aware of the health benefits of drinking milk regularly. They meet their physical demands of various nutrients by turning to other food items.  If they have babies at home and do not own milch cows, most of them buy cow milk from the nearby markets. Milk is also required to make winter delicacies. Traditionally, a more or less uniform milk price, for buying and selling, has prevailed in different rural markets. But two reports on milk marketing published recently in the FE have discovered gross anomalies in two separate areas --- one in Cumilla, another in Tangail. According to one report, the Bagmara Bazar in Cumilla's Lalmai upazila witnesses sale of 12,000 litres of cow milk every morning. The decades-old market is visited by about two thousand farmers from five unions who breed and raise milch cows.

Wholesalers who dominate the market purchase the milk from them for Tk 40 per litre (1.03 kilogram). Farmers are apparently happy with the price they get from their large clients. Apart from wholesalers, farmers sell their milk directly to various establishments in Cumilla city and Laksam. It's chiefly the mid-level and small farmers who bring their milk to the Bagmara market. To speak in brief, the milk-sellers' overall mood in the village milk market is one of contentment. It's mainly because the milk brought to the market is rarely left unsold.

In contrast to this market ambience, the overall condition in the Tangail district's markets is sombre. As the other FE report on milk trade says, the price of cow milk in the district is high. Quoting the milk traders, the report blames the short supply of the great nutrient to the district's rural markets for its exorbitant price. Seen against the backdrop of reality, the Tangail situation seems puzzling. This district town is not too far from Cumilla, where milk producers remain by and large satisfied with the price they receive for their product. Understandably, on being compelled to buy milk at Tk 50 to Tk 60 a kg in Tangail town and the nearby rural markets, people who need to drink milk regularly suffer a lot. Moreover, many affluent families have been accustomed to seeing their children grow on regular intake of milk. Those days now seem to have been lodged in nostalgic memories. The seasoned milk traders have felt the bite quite acutely. Due to price-hike of milk in the remote village markets, they face difficulty buying the product at cheaper rate and selling it at profitable prices in towns. In Tangail district, the sector most severely affected by the milk price rise is the one making sweetmeats. Its centuries-old sweetmeat industry is solely dependent on milk.

Apart from the popular trend of setting up dairy farms in today's Bangladesh, solvent farmers in general own at least one milch cow for its milk. The product is a wonderful gift of nature. Many rural people have started realising the health benefits of milk. Literate farmers are increasingly growing the habit of drinking milk. With two milch cows in the cow-shed, a whole family can have access to milk round the year. The excess milk can be sold in the market. Bangladesh has never been a milk-deficient country. The price, too, has been mostly reasonable. It's only the district Animal Resources Office, which can rectify the lopsided milk trade in rural areas.

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