'Need institutional and policy support to sustain growth'
Agriculture, the lifeline of the Bangladesh economy, has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the livestock sector was badly hit due to that as well, said Dr Abdul Jabbar Sikder, director general of the Department of Livestock Services (DLS).
However, coordinated efforts from public, private and non-government entities made it possible to facilitate the market for sacrificial animals during the recent Eid-ul-Azha amid the coronavirus outbreak, he added.
He made the observations at an online seminar as chief guest on the impact of Covid-19 and climatic disaster on the country’s livestock sector.
The virtual discussion was jointly organized by CARE Bangladesh and a leading newspaper on Thursday, said a press release issued in this regard.
Ramesh Singh, country director of CARE Bangladesh, while delivering the welcome speech, said: “Through SDC-Shomosti, we have supported marginalized women farmers, including dairy farmers.
“And to minimize the impact of the second wave of coronavirus we need to act now.”
Agreeing with him, Sohel Ibn Ali, senior program manager of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), who was the special guest at the webinar, recommended standardization of tariffs and import duty for the betterment of locally-produced milk and milk products.
He also emphasized improving market systems and affordable feed access for smallholder farmers.
Imdadul Haq Milan, editor of Kaler Kantha, said: “Bangladesh has experienced good progress in fisheries and livestock over the last few years.
“Need institutional and policy support to sustain growth.”
Through the SDC-SHOMOSHTI project, CARE Bangladesh reached out to 180,000 rural households (comprising the poor, disadvantaged, and women) with improved technical services, which resulted in higher yields, better prices, and increased income.
This was achieved through the application of interventions where investments, new and more inclusive business models stimulated from the national level to the private sector to create sustainable solutions to the underlying causes of market failure, the release added.
The discussion was informed by a keynote paper on the recently commissioned study by CARE Bangladesh.
Abul Hossain, of STL-Shomosti project, Dr Habibur Rahman, and Tashfiq Ahsan from Edge Consulting presented the findings and recommendations.
They shed light on the constraints and possible solutions around access to feed, finance, animal health services and lack of improved animal husbandry practices.
Two rural women farmers who got affected by Covid-19 and recent flooding shared their experiences with the audience of the webinar.
“Cattle prices dropped locally and feeding is a major problem experienced by rural farmers,” said Kalpona Begum from Lalmonirhat.
Another woman farmer, Nilufa Akter, said that she had to move cattle to her parental shelter due to recent flooding.
Shomi Kaiser, President of the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB), emphasized bringing small and marginal women farmers into the ICT eco-system by developing and expanding rural e-commerce platforms.
While sharing the experience of the digital cattle market during the last Eid season, she suggested that ICT literacy for rural women could facilitate their access to the online marketplace.
Prabodh Devkota, deputy country director (program) of CARE Bangladesh, appreciated the leadership of the government, particularly the Livestock Ministry and DLS, to address the challenges amid the coronavirus crisis.
He also laid stress on perceiving women as the central agency of change as a way of transforming the sector.
Among others, Dr ABM Khaleduzzaman, assistant director of DLS, Dr Md Golam Rabbani, chief technical advisor of the Livestock and Dairy Development Project, Shahnaz Akter Shahin, AVP and head of Bank Asia’s Agricultural Credit and Dr Mohammad Mohi Uddin of Bangladesh Agricultural University, spoke on the occasion.
Amanur Rahman, director of ERPP of CARE Bangladesh, moderated the discussion.