Bangladesh’s dairy farmers hit hard with milk ban

The high court in Bangladesh has banned production, distribution and sale of pasteurized milk for 14 companies and now dairy farmers have nowhere to sell their milk

July 31, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Dairy farmers in Bangladesh’s Bhangura district pouring hundreds of liters of milk across the streets as a mark of protest

The Bangladesh High Court ordered an official ban on 14 companies on July 28 that bars them from producing, distributing and selling pasteurized milk for five weeks after finding traces of harmful substances. Dairy farmers in Bangladesh’s Bhangura district held a creative protest against the decision on July 30 to highlight the adverse impact on farmers. “If the milk companies are adulterating milk why should farmers pay its cost?” farmers said while pouring hundreds of liters of milk across the streets as a mark of protest, shouted.

On July 28, Bangladesh High Court in its orders noted while carrying out three separate laboratory tests they have found harmful substances in pasteurized milk including antibiotics: Oxytetracycline, Tetracycline and Ciprofloxacin as well as other harmful heavy metals such as lead.

However, the farmers are complaining that the imposition of ban have landed them in trouble in terms of finding buyers for large quantities of milk, that are left unsold.

As many as 745 dairy farms in the Bhangura district have been affected because of the court orders and around 2,200 farms that produce estimated 650,000 liters of milk per day have stated that 80% of their milk is used by the 28 purchasers that included Milk Vita, Aarong, Pran, Akij and Baro Aulia, which are now banned.

Golam Hasnain Rasel, the mayor of Bhangura municipality and a dairy farmer, said that farmers are being penalized for things which they have not committed. Another dairy farmer Hasinur Rahman who also participated in the protests told local newspapers that he had recently taken loan to increase the milk capacity in his farms in May 2019: “I have to pay a monthly installment of BDT 30,000 (USD 355) to pay off the loan. If I cannot sell the milk I produce in my farm, how can I repay my loan, or look after my cows?” Hasinur responded.

Among the banned 14 companies that remain registered under the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) are the major four: Akij Food and Beverage Ltd (Farm Fresh Milk), Bangladesh Milk Producers’ Cooperative Limited (Milk Vita), BRAC Dairy and Food Project (Aarong Dairy), and Pran Dairy Ltd (Pran Milk).