Govt plans to make country self-reliant in milk, meat

Agriculture Minister Hari Prasad Parajuli has said the government plans to make the country self-reliant in milk and meat by the next three and five years, respectively.

Parajuli said the government would set aside Rs 8 billion in the budget for the next fiscal year to support commercialisation of agriculture and milk production. He said a revolving fund of Rs 200 million will be set up to lend to agriculture cooperatives to promote commercial agriculture, including dairy.

“The government has focused on capacity building of the farmers, introducing new farm technology and setting up a revolving fund for agriculture cooperatives to reduce the production costs and increase farms productivity,” the minister said at the 6th annual general meeting of the Dairy Industries Association (DIA) here on Thursday.

Dairy industry experts have stressed on the need for reducing the cost of production of farmers involved in the dairy sector to encourage them to increase productivity to address the milk shortages.

Although milk prices have been hiked several times with the government initiatives to facilitate producers, milk production programmes have failed to encourage them, they said. According to the DIA, milk yield from cattle’s like buffaloes and cows is very low at present.

Presenting a paper, DIA General Secretary Arniko Rajbhandari said only 13 percent of the cows were milk ing cows, while 26 percent of buffaloes could produce milk . “One out of every four buffaloes can produce milk , while only one cow out of seven is capable in producing milk .”

Babu Kaji Pant, executive director of National Dairy Development Board, said the government was introducing use of sex-sorted semen on cows to increase milk productivity. He said 10,000 units of semen has been planned to be imported that is expected to increase milk productivity.

“With the use of the semen, a female quadruped can produce at least 20-25 litre of milk daily,” said Pant, adding the board was also planning to test the milk through recently set up lab at the board to ensure the quality of the dairy products.

Narayan Devkota, president of Central Dairy Cooperative Association, said the government needs to introduce a mechanism to reduce the production cost of milk producers. “It has become an urgent need for introducing agriculture insurance programmes on farmer door and expanding the livestock protection programme in rural areas,” he said.

Keshav Prasad Premy, director general of Department of Livestock Services, said the department has been conducting forage mission programmes in 45 districts to reduce the cost of milk production.

According to DIA, the dairy sector is providing direct employment to 12,000 people and the industry has an investment of Rs 15 billion.

Source: eKantipur