Dairy farmers in trouble as crackdown initiated against hormonal injections

Law enforcement agencies with the help Rangers have sealed a veterinary center/pharmacy in Bhains Colony, Karachi, which was a leading supplier of hormonal injections (Somatec, Boostan and Oxytocin), which are used by dairy farmers to increase milk production. The said ‘medical center’ is run by one Dr. Abbas.

Following the raid in Bhains colony, all other markets and suppliers of these hormones have shut their outlets.

This action was taken after Chief Justice Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered to ban use of these hormones on animals as these are very harmful for the health of animals as well as humans consuming milk of such animals. Oxytocin infected milk is quite dangerous for the hormonal and mental growth of kids and teenagers.

Dairy are farmers are in a fix as without using these hormones, they can not sell the milk as per the rates fixed by the Commissioner Karachi.  A dairy farmer said in Karachi, the farmer was incurring an expense of Rs110 to get one liter milk i.e. the farmer was getting the milk at Rs110/liter, while the Commissioner Karachi had fixed retail stage milk price at Rs85/liter.

It may be mentioned here that dairy farmers having contractual agreements with bulk buyers are selling milk at Rs70/liter. A discussion with farmers disclosed that they could not provide milk at these rates without the use of hormones.

Farmers said without the oxytocin, they would have to keep the calf to get the milk from the animal, which increased the costs. Farmers are of the view, that the production would decline significantly and to meet the milk demand, there would be huge influx of synthetic milk made from even more harmful chemicals.

Studies have shown that the hormone — recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) — has serious health risks for animals who are administered the hormonal injection and the humans who consumed their milk.

Another chemical named Formalin is used to increase the shelf life of milk. This chemical is basically used on dead bodies.

According to sources, the imported hormone is banned in the EU, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Australia and even India though it is still in use in the US where hormone-treated products are labeled and priced lower than organic products.

In Pakistan, the hormone had been in use for the past many years and its recent ban will cause a significant drop in the production of fresh unpasteurized milk.

A number of farmers running into losses due to reduced milk production are desperate to get the hormonal injection, as they have no other option to fulfill the gap in milk production and recover their losses.

It may be mentioned here that Punjab government has taken measures to check the quality and health of milk following the order of the Chief Justice. However, Sindh government has completely ignored the apex directives and no such measures have been taken.

The reason behind this is that milk is being sold at Rs110/liter to Rs120/liter in Punjab despite the fact the fodder is abundantly available at cheaper rates, while in Sindh and particularly in Karachi the fodder cost is quite high.

Dairy farmers said there would be severe scarcity of milk and this would adversely affect the dairy business even the big companies dealing in tetra pack milk would be adversely affected. It may be mentioned here that tetra pack companies such as Nestle collect the milk from a large number of farmers at Rs45/liter to Rs50/liter. The tetra pack companies meet the part of demand using imported powdered milk.

Dairy farmers have appreciated the Chief Justice for taking the measure and safeguarding the health of people, but unless the milk prices are deregulated throughout the country and a system is put in place to strictly monitor the entire supply chain, the ban on hormonal injections would only result in pushing small dairy farmers out of business.

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