Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that the government is working to ensure nutrition for all. She called upon the private entrepreneurs to supplement the government efforts to achieve the goal.
"Our government has already ensured food security for all by boosting food production ... our aim is now to ensure nutrition (for all) by eliminating their malnutrition and we have been implementing various programmes to achieve the goal," she said.
The Prime Minister said this while inaugurating a programme for loan distribution at five percent interest to make Bangladesh self-reliant in milk production at Krishibid Institution, Bangladesh auditorium at Farmgate in the capital this morning.
The Department of Livestock under the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock arranged the function with Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock Md Maksudul Hasan Khan in the chair.
Fisheries and Livestock Minister Mohammad Sayedul Haque, State Minister for Fisheries and Livestock Narayan Chandra Chanda and Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Atiur Rahman were present as the special guests, while Banking and Financial Institution Division Secretary Dr M Aslam Alam delivered the welcome address.
Two beneficiaries of the programme -- one from Badarganj of Rangpur another from Tungipara of Gopalganj -- also spoke at the function.
At the function, the Premier handed over chequers for loan among 13 selected beneficiaries of the scheme.
Noting that milk is a fast perishable product, Sheikh Hasina put emphasis on producing new products from milk through its diversification as well as their proper preservation and processing to flourish dairy industry.
"Alongside milk production, we must give focus whether milk is safe for public health .... we will also have to make the farmers aware of antibiotic rescue, germ infection and harmful objects," she said.
The Premier said the small farmers are mainly involved in producing milk in the country. "Commercial dairy farms were not established in large scale and for this, there is no alternative to increasing milk production by utilising the labour of small farmers and developing livestock species," she said.
Artificial insemination, she said, is the main strategy or technology for developing these species.
Mentioning that high mortality rate of cross species of calves is the main barrier to artificial insemination, Sheikh Hasina directed the Animal Resources Department to give attention to reduce the death rate.
Citing the government's initiative for setting up 100 economic zones across the country for massive industrialisation and generating employment, the Prime Minister said there will be a specific place in the zones to establish agri and food processing industries.
"We would give attention so that agri and food processing industries could be set up in these economic zones. It would help increase our food export side by side with meeting our domestic food demand," she said.
Mentioning that Bangladesh is lagging in exporting 'halal' meat, the Prime Minister said there is a huge potential in exporting such meat as many Muslim countries import huge halal meat for their people.
"We are trailing in processing and exporting 'halal' meat. But we could rear Buffaloes and lambs alongside cows in our vast char lands and hill region. There is also a huge demand of our black goats across the world."
"Besides, domestic demand for such meat is increasing day by day as the trend of having meal outside the residence is raising due to job of both husband and wife. So we could fulfil our internal demand also export it through increasing (meat) production," she said.
Spelling out different government steps for increasing milk production, the Prime Minister said the government approved a new project to construct bull station and laboratory for developing species through research.
The Premier said Bangladesh is advancing with short, middle and long-term plans. The country's economy and budget are expanding, while buying capacity of the people is increasing and industrialisation and urbanisation are taking place speedily.
Sheikh Hasina said the main aims of the millennium development goals (MDGs) were to bring down poverty and malnutrition to half.
The Prime Minister said her government has made arrangements for reaching capital at low interest to boost milk production and reach the artificial insemination programme to the doorsteps of the farmers.
To advance the programme, she said, the Ministry of Finance, Bangladesh Bank and other banks and financial institutions came forward.
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh was awarded for achieving
millennium development goals (MDGs) one from six.
"There are sustainable development goals (SDGs) and we have to give attention the SDGs to retain and make sustainable the economic uplift. We will also have to advance the country further to achieve our goal of establishing a high middle income country by 2021 and developed one by 2041," she said.
Recalling contribution of Bangabandhu to meeting the huge demand of milk and milk made products, Sheikh Hasina said the then government formed Bangladesh Milk Producers Cooperative Union Limited popularly known as "Milk Vita" in 1973 with the assistance of other organizations including FAO, DANIDA and UNDP.
The Premier said Bangabandhu has liberated the country and showed the path of development to the people. "Bangabandhu also dreamt of establishing Sonar Bangla. Following his footprint, we have been working ceaseless to establish a hunger and poverty-free Bangladesh," she said.
Wishing success of the loan distribution programme 2016 at five percent interest, Sheikh Hasina said marginal farmers would be more encouraged in rearing cows and producing milk. As a result, she said, the country will be self reliant in milk production.
Under the programme, a Taka 200 crore refinancing fund has been created by the Bangladesh Bank for providing this loan to the farmers for milk production and artificial insemination for five years. Each farmer would be able to take this loan amounting maximum Tk two lakh for procuring and rearing highest four calves.
The female and marginal farmers would get preferences for receiving loans from such refinancing facility while the loan recipient farmers would get highest 54 months time including 14 months grace period to adjust their loans with interest.
The loan would be provided through 13 banks and financial institutions at a rate of highest five percent. The 13 banks and financial institutions would get such refinancing facility from Bangladesh Bank at bank rate (now five percent) interest.
These banks and financial institutions would get the additional five percent interest against their loans as loss or subsidy from the government, according to a news agency.