Cattle sellers and buyers both experienced mixed reactions about digital markets
With the ongoing lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic in full swing, the digital cattle markets have the potential to alot of traction this year, ahead of Eid-ul-Azha.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune, cattle sellers and buyers both experienced mixed reactions about digital markets for buying and selling sacrificial animals.
A plus side of the aspect is that more than 213,000 animals have already been sold in the virtual marketplaces, they said.
On July 3, the government launched this year's edition of the Digital Haat, to purchase the sacrificial animals virtually and avoid public gatherings amid the pandemic.
The Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), ICT Division, E-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) and Bangladesh Dairy Farm Association are jointly operating the online platform.
So far it is organizing about 250 online animal markets in the country, where farmers/traders in any part of the country will be able to sell their sacrificial animals.
As per Digital Haat's official figures and as of writing this report, 372 sacrificial animals had been directly sold at the platform this year, with 262 bookings for slaughter, 19 animals sold using the platform's escrow service, and all for a total transaction figure of Tk1,511 crore.
Mohammad Ajmal Hossain, a resident of Lalbagh, said: “Due to fear of Covid-19 infection, this time we bought our sacrificial animal online from Ahmed Agro Farm. We visited their website and bought one after looking at several options via video call.”
Wahidur Rahman Tamal, whose father lives in Saudi Arabia, said: “My father cannot join us because of the pandemic, that is why we bought our cattle online this year."
"Even last year we bought our cattle from a traditional cattle market," he added.
Tito Rahman, CEO of Deshigorubd.com, said that they collected completely organic cows from different parts of the country.
"For those willing to book, the cows will be delivered to their homes two days before Eid. We take 50% of the cattle price in advance, and the rest after delivery," he added.
DNCC's Chief Health Officer Brig Gen Jobaidur Rahman said: “If we can sell cows on digital platforms for 100,000 people, then 800,000 people will refrain from visiting traditional cattle markets this year. This will immensely help in avoiding Covid-19 infections."
"Those willing to avail slaughter and processing of the sacrificial animals, we charge Tk200 per Tk1,000 of the cattle's price," he added.
Tawfiq Rahman, finance director of Freshmeat Bazar, a service provider platform of DNCC, said: "We launched Freshmeat Bazar from July 5 this year. It is an online meat processing centre. Here we process everything from beef, mutton, chicken to other livestock and deliver it to customers.”
Shomi Kaiser, president of the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB), said: “This haat is Eid-centric. But due to the ongoing pandemic, we want buyers to buy sacrificial animals online. Last time there was an opportunity for marginal farmers to be directly involved but this time there is no such opportunity."
"As it was difficult to verify a large database of countrywide cattle traders, we only gave approval to verified sellers," she added.
All the online huts have been brought on the same platform to ensure safe trading.
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.
The last date for delivery of animals is the day before Eid.
However, if in the same city, sellers can take orders for animals until the day before Eid.
Information related to all the markets across the country can be found at livestockmarket.net, and also at the Department of Livestock Services (DLS) website.
“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.
“For this, the digital system has to be mastered and used. Around 25% of the total sacrificial animals are targeted for selling via digital platforms this year. A total of 157,000 cattle worth around Tk1,117 crore has been sold on the digital platform so far this year. This is very promising,” he added.
He also said the total number of visitors to the Digital Haat has been 411,000 so far.
Full processing service, including slaughter and butchering meat for 500 animals has been arranged at the platform.
According to the DLS, around 1.19 crore animals, including cattle, goats, sheep, and camels have been reared for the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha.
Shah Emran, secretary general of the Bangladesh Dairy Farmers Association, said: "If anyone outside the Dairy Association wants to sell animals on this platform, they have to contact us."
"We can register them (farmers) any time. They should not be discouraged by this. All they need to do is contact our district-level representatives," he added.
"We reared six bulls for selling, but had no idea about online haats. If I had known there would be limited traditional cattle markets in the capital, I would have registered with Digital Haat," said Montu Miah, a cattle farmer from Mohammadpur's Beribadh area.
He was optimistic as some buyers were visiting his farm to look at his cattle. But if he does not find fair price for them, he vowed never to rear cattle again.
However, Rahmat Ali, another cattle farmer, received favourable responses online.
He insisted on selling cows online this time because of the pandemic.
Hafizur Rahman, director general of the WTO Cell of the Ministry of Commerce, said that such an initiative was taken keeping in mind the needs of the farmers.
This year, the safety of the buyers and sellers has been given priority. Farmers who are not registered as sellers can do so just by contacting their local administration or livestock officer, he added.