“I bought my cow from India a few months ago for Tk21,000. I cared for it since then, and now I expect to sell it for Tk2 lakh,” said a cattle trader in Chapainawabganj.
The price of an Indian cow to be sold in a Bangladeshi market depends on several factors: the amount spent to care for it, the cost of bringing it across the border, the “khatal” or registration fee to be paid to the customs, and the bribes that one sometimes has to pay for safe passage through the borders.
Cattle smugglers in Chapainawabganj explained the process of getting a cow from India to the local market to the Dhaka Tribune.
“First, you have to place your order with an Indian cattle trader; your order must be in pairs. Then you pay Tk42,000 for a pair of cattle via Hundi. After the transaction, a cattle rearer from the Indian side delivers the cattle, in exchange of Tk6,000,” said a cattle smuggler, asking not to be named.
If the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) patrol teams learn about the trade, you have to pay them for a safe crossover.
“For each pair, we pay BSF Tk12,000 and BGB Tk6,000,” the smuggler said.
By the time the pair of cattle reaches its Bangladeshi buyer, the overall price stands at Tk66,000 a pair.
Local traders said the price of 40kg beef varies between Tk16,000 and Tk18,000. Considering that price range, and given the fact that a Tk21,000 cow typically produces around 130kg to 150kg of meat, when the pair of cattle reaches the local market, their price stands at around Tk128,000.
Hossain Ali, a cattle trader from Mohipur village, said he bought a pair of Indian cows for Tk133,000 during Ramadan.
“In the past three months it cost me Tk14,000 to feed them. I want to take them to Chittagong for sale, but for that I need to hire a truck, which costs Tk33,000. Furthermore, a truck can be hired if I have 16-18 cattle to transport,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
But he found a way to sell his cattle without the additional cost. He asked Azad, a neighbour who is taking his own cattle to Chittagong, to take him along.
“I agreed to share half of my profit with him, considering all costs.”
He aims to sell his cattle for Tk200,000.
Why such a high price? “Because I still have other expenses. We have to pay Tk45,000 to the Haat organisers. Beside we need money to buy food for the cattle as well as ourselves.
“This is how cattle prices increase so much. If I do not manage to sell it for at least Tk200,000, I will not make any profit.”
But what if there are no customers willing to pay such a high price?
“Then I will take my cattle back home and wait until I can find a customer who will,” said Hossain.