PESHAWAR – Dairy and livestock farmers have voiced concern over import and sale of dry milk in the country, stressing the government to ban import of dairy items and instead take serious steps to enhance milk and meat production in the country.
While speaking at a news conference at Peshawar Press Club on Monday, the Dairy and Cattle Farmers Association (DCFA) president Shakir Gujjar said that dairy sector had plunged into severe crisis due to apathy on the part of the government due to which farmers were forced to slaughter their cattle. He said that the crisis resulting out of the wrong policies of government was pushing large number of small dairy farmers out of the business.
He said that as many as 200 dairy farmers had went bankrupt in Karachi only, while nearly 100 farmers migrated from Sindh to Punjab under prevailing circumstances. He added that hundreds of tons of skimmed and whey milk powder had been imported during the last five years in the country, which is a growing threat to local dairy farmers. He also said that sale of synthetic milk was on the rise in the country.
Shakir Gujjar asked the government to impose heavy duties on import of milk and whey powder which, he said, would not only shield local dairy sector, but would also generate revenue for the government.
The association president of Punjab region, Haji Ilyas, members of the working group, Shabbir Afridi, Haji Asif, Wali Khan, Haji Ibrahim, Imdad, Rabi-ul-Islam, Dr Farid, Syed Mukhtiar and a number of small dairy farmers from various parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were present during the press conference.
Gujjar said that time was ripe for Pakistan to slap higher duties on milk powder import in an effort to protect investments in the country as well as make the country an exporter to Central Asian republics. He also dispelled the concept that skimmed milk and whey powder was being imported as to bridge the gap between demand and supply of milk in the country.
He said that the country had huge potential to meet the growing requirements of milk and meat on daily basis by improving production of dairy products. But it needs concentration and proper support of the government, he said.
The association president also expressed concern over export of animal fodder, due to which its prices had jumped up in the local market, reaching out of the purchasing power of small dairy farmers. He demanded stopping export and subsidising farmers on imported animal food. He said that all taxes and duties should be withdrawn on dairy equipments.
The office bearers stressed the government to ban import of whey and skimmed milk powder.
Gujjar also demanded that an inquiry should be conducted about imported dry and whey milk powder. He said that it was need of the hour to take steps on urgent basis to enhance production of fresh milk and meat in the country. He also said that free trade agreements should be signed with other countries as well, like the one signed with Malaysia.
The association president demanded that cattle colonies should be established in Peshawar and other parts of KP to ensure supply of fresh milk. He asked the KP government to take stern action against sale of adulterated milk and ensure availability of fresh milk to the people.
He said that bridging the seasonal gap between demand and supply of milk in the country through sale of adulterated milk was serious threat to human health, so the trend of dairy farming with support of government needs to be increased, he added. He called for better functioning of KP Food Authority to take action against sale of adulterated milk in the province.
Later, he announced formation of a working group comprising dairy farmers in KP with an aim to launch a membership drive as well as to highlight the issues of small dairy farmers in the province.