The Indian ban on cattle import appears to have been a blessing for the livestock sector
Once highly dependent on Indian cattle, new data shows that Bangladesh is almost self-reliant on meeting the demand for livestock during this Eid-ul-Azha.
According to the Department of Livestock Services (DLS), there are 15 million livestock being reared for this Eid, which is higher than the demand for cows last year of 14 million.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said: “We have enough supply of locally-reared cattle to meet the demands for Eid-ul-Azha. So, there will be no shortage of cattle this year.”
Md Mahbubur Rahman, director (production) of the Department of Livestock Service (LDS) explained the high supply of livestock this year saying: “After the ban on importing cattle from India in 2014, farmers earned a good sum selling cattle with a large profit margin which encouraged them to start larger scale farming, especially of cows. As a result, the domestic production capacity went up.
“On the other hand, the government's initiative to create self-employment has led more people to join this industry. We are helping by providing technical support such as vaccines, nutritional recommendations, etc.”
A local cattle trader at the Gabtoli cattle market Fasial Rahman said most people prefer local cows to imported ones.
“Although the cost of a local cow is higher most people prefer them to imported ones because they taste better and are raised in a clean environment and a healthy diet,” said Rahman.
Stakeholders have urged the government to not allow imported livestock into the market this year since there is enough supply. According to LDS, this year demands may rise to about 11 million from 10 million in the last year.
Challenges and ways forward
Bangladesh cattle rearing industry has a great opportunity to grow because about 95% of people consume red-meat. But there are challenges especially in supplying meat at reasonable prices.
“In reaping the maximum benefits from this emerging sector, the government has to withdraw tax on import of food and modern technology to bring the industry up to date,” said Bangladesh Dairy Farmers' Association General Secretary Shah Emran. He believes that to reduce production costs the sector needs to introduce technology and low cost food.
“On the other hand, the sector should be declared as agriculture and the utility services including electricity, water should be provided under the sector instead of industry. Currently, the farmers are paying utility services bill at the industrial rate.
“Moreover, the government has to fully impose the ban on the import of cattle from other countries. If that is done, the sector will see a huge investment from home and abroad creating employment opportunity,” he added.