'In the last seven years, milk production has tripled, and in this situation the government should increase the import tariff gradually to increase the incentive and government cooperation in domestic milk industry'
The Bangladesh Dairy Farmers Association at a press conference on Saturday demanded imposition of anti-dumping tax and increasing import duty to 50% on low quality powdered milk.
Ahead of the programme, they spilled milk in front of National Press Club in the capital in protest at the proposal of increasing the duty from 5% to a "meagre" 10% in the proposed budget of 2019-20 fiscal year.
Imran Hossain, president of the association, read out a written speech in which he placed multiple demands, including ensuring fair price of liquid milk in adjustment with the inflation during the last 15 years, proper market monitoring, removing all import taxes of equipment used in local dairy farms, switching utility billing rates on dairy farming from commerce to agriculture (to avail reduced rates), providing tax holidays and tax-free income for twenty years similar to poultry and fishery industries, and providing low interest loans to dairy farmers.
“But in the proposed budget, concessionary customs duty has been increased from 5% to only 10%, which will not benefit the dairy farmers in any way," he added.
He said the dairy farmers of the country met almost 70% of the demand for milk in the country.
“In the last seven years, milk production has tripled, and in this situation the government should increase the import tariff gradually to increase the incentive and government cooperation in domestic milk industry," he added.
The association also demanded subsidies in this sector and remarked that Bangladesh's dairy farmers were not getting subsidies.
"Due to the import of milk from those countries which get subsidies from their governments, local dairy farmers are being exposed to uneven competition and loss," the written speech said.
The association expressed fear that the domestic market would be forced to buy milk at higher price if further investment was not made in the sector.
They also claimed the existing anti-dumping tax policy was currently not enforced properly.
Sheikh Nadir Hossain Lipu, chairman of Milk Vita (Bangladesh Milk Producers Co-operative Union Limited), Shah Emran, general secretary of Bangladesh Dairy Farmers Association, and others were also present at the program.