Govt imports milk from India due to low local production

Kathmandu, May 16

The state-owned dairy producer — Dairy Development Corporation (DDC) — has started importing fresh milk from India citing low production and collection of milk in the country.

Citing that domestic production is currently unable to cater to the demand in the market, DDC has been importing almost 20,000 litres of fresh milk from Patna of India on a daily basis since May 4.

“The period between mid-April to mid-August is considered to be a lean season for milk production. As the supply of fresh milk from domestic sources has declined, we have been compelled to import milk from India,” Ganga Timalsina, general manager of DDC, said.

According to him, milk collection of all dairies, including DDC, has decreased in recent days also because of the increasing consumption of milk in the local market itself.

“Farmers today are increasingly selling milk in the local market. This has resulted in milk deficit in major markets, including in the Valley,” he added.

This is not the first time that DDC had imported fresh milk. The state-owned supplier of dairy products had imported milk from Indian dairy cooperatives last year too. “We will stop the import once domestic production meets the demand,” he said.

DDC, which has major stake in Nepal’s dairy industry, has been supplying 140,000 litres of milk across the country every day. It supplies 110,000 litres of milk in the Valley on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, dairy farmers have said that the existing government policies are an obstacle to the growth of the domestic dairy industry and are pushing the country towards dependency on dairy products with other nations.

“Our policies only favour big dairy firms,” alleged Narayan Devkota, president of Central Dairy Cooperatives’ Association, adding that dairy farmers today are closing down their businesses due to unfriendly policies, which has resulted in the low production of milk.

As per Devkota, dairy farmers are paid well below the cost of production by the government and private dairy firms, thus discouraging them from remaining involved in the dairy farming business.

“The price of raw materials in milk production such as feed and hybrid calves has increased by as much as 35 per cent in recent years. However, the government has not increased the price of milk for farmers since more than a year,” he said.

Dairy companies have been paying around Rs 43 for a litre of milk to farmers while fresh milk costs almost Rs 70 per litre in the retail market. According to dairy farmers, current production cost of milk in Nepal is above Rs 54 a litre. “The government should increase milk price for farmers by at least eight rupees per litre as soon as possible,” Devkota said.