Four million litres of milk are left unsold every day
A recent rapid situation analysis shows that the rapid decline in demand, forward market trade, and basic supply chain functions, especially in milk production are causing a huge loss for dairy farmers.
All sorts of trade are halted amid the pandemic situation in Bangladesh.
A projection from the study analysis suggests that the situation would cause dairy farmers to incur a loss of Tk18.9 crore daily as 4 million litres of milk are being wasted while they are forced to sell 3.7 million litres at a reduced price.
Shomosthi, an SDC funded project of CARE Bangladesh conducted the rapid situation analysis study during the last week of April and the first week of May.
The study was aimed at bringing attention to taking immediate action to abate the loss incurred by farmers in the livestock sector.
The study found a sharp fall in income as sales of 90% of retailers, the income of 85% of paravets, and 74% of farmers dropped due to the current market situation.
The average daily customers and sales of 90% of retailers have dropped by 46% and 54% respectively, compared to the scene before the outbreak of Covid-19.
Besides, 72% of surveyed retailers report that they cannot collect the milk on time due to restrictions on transport and limited supply from companies.
Along with hindrances in running their trades, almost all the respondents (95%) also report that their household income has decreased significantly while 50% report increased expenditure in their households.
Sufferings of the farmers
The alarming finding of the study is that 33% of the respondents cut down on food intake to retain their savings, while doctors are suggesting to ensure proper nutrition during this pandemic situation.
And some 65% of surveyed households said they have been using their savings to survive which also forecasts another crisis looming after opening the markets.
Besides, 21% of the respondents took out loans for managing household expenditures.
About 97% of entrepreneurs forecast that they will face huge losses if the situation continues for the next 3 months.
Among them, 67% of entrepreneurs will incur debts or scale down their businesses and 47% will shut down their businesses. There is an adverse impact on household income as well, the study said.
How the study was conducted
Some 100 farmers and 72 entrepreneurs in seven districts under three divisions were interviewed through mobile phone and the national projection was made multiplying it to the dairy farmers population in the country mentioned by the data (2018) of Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute, said Arman Rahman, director (extreme poverty) of CARE Bangladesh.
From the national level projection, it is seen that the dairy farmers are losing Tk18.9 crore. And some 4 million litres of milk remain unsold, with which at least 20 million people can fulfil their daily nutrition requirements.
Arman Rahman said the daily loss was made using the study on a limited scale.
“We fear that the actual loss would be much greater,” he said.
The study recommends providing immediate subsidy on raw milk processing to encourage private companies to procure milk from farmers regularly.
It also recommended relaxing terms on providing loans and providing multipurpose cash assistance for the farmers so that they can continue their farming.
"While the support provided by the government and development partners to the country’s export sectors is timely and important, the plight of people working in agriculture and the informal economy, many of whom live in poverty or are on the verge of falling back into poverty, should not be forgotten,” said Derek George, deputy director of Cooperation, Switzerland Embassy in Bangladesh.
Prabodh Devkota, deputy country director (Programs) of CARE Bangladesh said: “The rapid assessment analysis and evidence offer strategic insights for immediate attention and quick actions to help smallholder farmers across the country.
“Amid the evolving Covid-19 context and its potential impact, there are supports required for immediate, mid-term and long-term periods.
He also said: “It is also high time to pay attention to women who are bearing the hardest burden. Any further delay in response will be costly and may push people into a longer-term poverty trap.”