VN dairy farmers struggle against low prices
Many farmers in Ho Chi Minh City are shutting down their farms as the milk prices drop and they lack funds to improve quality.
Bathing for cows in HCM City
According to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the city had 73,646 cows as of June, a decrease by 25,744 compared to February 2016 when the farmers also faced lots of difficulties and needed help from the government. The number of cows in Cu Chi District decreased from 67,537 at 6,626 households to 66,422 cows at 4,699 households.
A trader in Cu Chi said over 100 households sold milk to him in 2014, but only 40 remains in the business now.
"The former milk price was VND14,000 (61 US cents) per kilo and requirements were not as strict. The current prices are VND10,500 to VND11,000 per kilo and the quality requirements have been tightened. Meanwhile cattle feed prices have been on the rise, forcing many households to find another job," he said.
A farmer in Tan Thanh Dong said it was difficult to control the quality and they didn't know how the company decide the milk quality either. Some of them bought drugs to test the milk quality but were still rejected later.
The farmers often wake up from 4 am and work until dusk. It is more beneficial to sell cows for meat than milk.
Nguyen Minh Khanh, director of Tan Thong Hoi Cooperatives, said they were trying to build a milk brand for Cu Chi so only quality milk would be accepted.
"We can only throw away poor quality milk. We have equipment to test the milk quality and the results are confirmed at major labs. Farmers will be warned or have their contracts cancelled if they keep sending poor quality milk," he said.
Nguyen Van Cam, deputy head of the Finance Department at Cu Chi People's Committee, said 4,699 households were providing 338 tonnes of milk to three companies. He claimed the situation was still stable and the milk prices were decided by its quality.
"Only those who refuse to improve their quality will have contracts cancelled. We are also starting a programme to improve the quality of dairy herds, encouraging farmers to cut the number of cows so the farmers sold their cows to neighbouring provinces. They use the rest for beef," he said.