Kathmandu, August 3
Dairy factories in the country are reducing their daily supply due to lack of milk powder in the market.
As the government has halted the import of milk powder, dairy factories are struggling to meet the market demand during the lean season this year. The period between April and November is considered lean season for milk production.
In order to fulfil the market demand during the lean season, private dairy factories require a total of 20,209 kg of milk powder per day. Reportedly, there is shortage of milk powder as the private dairy factories have already used up their stock.
According to Nepal Dairy Association (NDA), Anmol Dairy located in Panauti has shut down from today, while NOVA Dairy located in Bhaktapur halted product supply from today. “NOVA may not be able to resume production for as long as it is unable to procure sufficient milk powder,” informed Ram Krishna Sapkota, president of NDA.
He further said that the association had welcomed the government’s decision to halt import of milk powder six months ago as the market was flush with local milk products at that time. “However, we had cautioned Agriculture Minister Chakrapani Khanal that the restriction should be lifted during the lean season when the domestic production of milk powder would not suffice to cater to the local demand,” he explained.
As per Sapkota, the dairy factories have been forced to slash their daily supply by around 25 to 30 per cent. “Unless the government takes some immediate steps to rectify the situation, the market will face severe shortage of dairy products in the near future,” he warned, adding that it will ultimately encourage import of foreign dairy products and negate the gains of the flush season.
He also said that dairy factory owners have repeatedly urged Minister Khanal to find a feasible solution to this issue, but their requests have so far fallen on deaf ears.
Minister Khanal had halted import of milk powder in April ‘to promote local products’.
The restriction had been imposed after the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) received frequent complaints from farmers regarding not getting a market for their produce and they had poured milk on the roads as a sign of protest.
“Though the intention in imposing the restriction was good, the government should have first ensured that the country has enough milk powder plants so that local production would not get affected even during the lean season,” Sapkota opined.
According to NDA, private sector has invested around Rs 30 billion in the dairy sector.
Currently, there are around 32 dairy factories within the Valley and around 200 factories across the country.
A version of this article appears in print on August 04, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.