'A total of 60 marketplaces, such as Daraz, Evaly and 2,000 farmers, will be connected through this platform'
It remains to be seen whether the government's endeavour of setting up a virtual marketplace to sell cattle and other sacrificial animals picks up pace ahead of the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha.
On Sunday they launched an online platform, Digital Haat, in this regard to purchase the sacrificial animals virtually and avoid public gatherings amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), ICT Division, E-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) and Bangladesh Dairy Farm Association will jointly operate the online platform.
“A target to sell 100,000 cattle has been set. A total of 60 marketplaces, such as Daraz, Evaly and 2,000 farmers, will be connected through this platform,” said DNCC Mayor Md Atiqul Islam.
“According to our figures, there are 11.9 million cattle for sale ahead of Eid. We expect 10 million cattle to be sold,” said Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim.
Although the local authorities do not have any target of selling online, DNCC Digital Haat has set a target to sell 100,000 sacrificial animals ahead of Eid-ul-Ahza using their online platform.
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Bangladesh Dairy Farmers Association president Imran Hossain said dairy farmers across the country could also connect with the digital haat.
“We have given directives to the all-districts administrations to launch a digital haat connecting all upazilas," said State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak.
Such an initiative will help to reduce crowding in the physical cattle market, he added.
“We conceived the idea of creating a digital platform for safer purchase and selling of sacrificial animals to curb the Covid-19 resurgence in the country last year," said Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Minister Tajul Islam during the launch on Sunday.
“We held meetings with the livestock farmers to encourage them to operate an online cattle market and also requested people not to visit the cattle markets physically,” said Dr Md Humayun Kabir, divisional commissioner of Rajshahi.
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“We have listed 89 online sites, all are based across eight districts in Rajshahi division, and who have already started selling cows and goats,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
Like Rajshahi, many dairy farmers are actively selling cows online in Chittagong and Khulna.
A livestock official in Khulna told Dhaka Tribune that authorities have already been preventing gathering of crowds at cattle markets in Rajshahi.
The authorities are raising awareness among buyers by telling them to purchase their sacrificial animals online this year.
“We have listed 65 online websites from Khulna which have already begun selling sacrificial animals online,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
“We will provide all kind support if the local authority seeks any kind of support to install software for the online cattle market as we want to promote digital haat,” said Palak during the launch on Sunday.
Tajul Islam also said that he will ask the municipalities, upazila councils and district councils to take initiative for digital haat with getting support from ICT division.