Neither the market for milk, nor the provision of fodder

Grievances of dairy farmers

Sabina Karki

April 6, 2020


Neither the market for milk, nor the provision of fodder

Cow farming, file photo

KATHMANDU:  Khem Raj Poudel 70, Nawalparasi has 75 milking cows produing 500 liters of everyday. The cost for hay and fodder goes to nearly 20000 rupees perday.

It’s 10 days since he last managed to sell his milk. The Fishtail Dairy of Pokhara used to buy his milk. After lockdown it has not come to collect milk from him. “ Dairy has stopped milk collection,” Poudel said, “ the farmers of Nawalparasi are compelled to throw the milk in the drains.”

Poudel said that the shutdown resulted in the closure of sale locally and the dairy’s  refusal to take milk from the farmers compelled the farmers to throw the milk in the drain

What about producing ghee?

“Why don’t you produce ghee out of it?”

“Is it possible to make ghee out of 500 liters?” Poudel asked us back, “ We don’t have the capacity of producing ghee.”

Issue is not about the sale of milk alone, the farmers are worried about the fodder for the cows. They wonder whether they should chase the cow or let them die in the shed.

Not only Poudel, more than 500 farmers of the world feel hard hit by the corona induced lockdown. Unless they sell the milk, they have no income, and unless they have money they can’t arrange for fodder.

Consumption declined by 25%: DDC

Government owned Dairy Development Corporation which used to sell 100 thousand liters every day is selling 75 thousand liters in lockdown.

Yet, DDC officials say that they don’t find any difficulty in the transportation and supply of the milk.

“ We have been supplying our products through 1200 shops in Kathmandu,” Rajendra Adhikari, the Deputy Director General of DDC says, “We have been supplying from 1 A.M. to 7 A.M. in the morning.”

However, the milk production and collection which used to surge from Apr. to Nov. is declining due to coronavirus spread.

Adhikari shared that the corporation sends the milk not consumed in the market to Biratnagar based powder plant.

The closure of hotel and restaurant has resulted in the decline of demand and consumption of milk. According to Adhikari hotel sector used to consume more than 10 thousand liters of milk everyday. Private dairy’s don’t fare better these days.

Transportation a problem: Dairy Industry Association

Dairy entrepreneurs say that the milk consumption has declined by 50% due to lockdown.

According to the association, the collection is about 300 thousand liters everyday and only half of it is consumed. Due to lack of awareness in the consumers, the consumption of curd, butter, ghee, cheese is also less than before.

Earlier, the dairy association had suspended milk collection for a week which resulted in the desperate reaction of farmers like throwing the milk in the gutter or giving it to the cattle.

Dairy Udyog Sangh’s former president Araniko Rajbhandari claimed that the association was trying to address the problem of the farmers by manufacturing powder milk.

He also blamed the lockdown and said the restricted transportation has made the collection difficult.

Although the government has promised not to disturb the transportation of the goods and supplies of daily consumption, the farmers suffer due to lockdown in many ways.

“The police ask the milk tankers visiting the collection centers either to work from office or stay at home,” Rajbhandari pointed out the difficulty, “how can we collect the milk without staffs.”

According to the data at the Ministry for Agriculture, the daily milk production in Nepal is 2200 thousand liters.

Kathmandu valley alone consumes 600 thousand liters in normal days. But, according to dairy entrepreneurs, the consumption has fallen to 200 thousand liters due to lockdown.

The farmers are suffering two ways, the milk has no market and the cattle have no fodder.