‘India’s cross-border cattle trade ban proves boon for Bangladesh’

By SM Najmus Sakib

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA): The ban on cross-border cattle trade imposed by India in 2014, coinciding with the rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coming to power, has proved a boon for neighboring Bangladesh.

Experts believe that following this ban, the South Asian country on the Bay of Bengal invested in livestock and has now become self-sufficient in beef production.

On the eve of Eid al-Adha, the most important Muslim festival, which will start on Saturday, Bangladesh’s Livestock Ministry said they have a stock of 12.3 million cattle against the demand of 9.8 million.

The Muslim festival marks the culmination of the annual hajj (pilgrimage) rituals in Saudi Arabia and is also celebrated by sacrificing cattle to distribute a part of the meat to the poor and relatives and family members to recall the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham to Christians and Jews) to sacrifice his son.

Official data reveals that before 2014, cattle imported from India accounted for 40% of beef consumption in Bangladesh.

About 2.5 million cows were imported in 2013, which was reduced to 200,000 in 2020. Officials said in the last two years, the imports have further reduced.

After the ban by India dried up cattle flowing from across the border, many entrepreneurs smelled the chance to meet up the demand, particularly during Eid festivals.

Among them, Abrarul Haque, 19, a college graduate in the south-central Faridpur district, started his cattle farming in 2019 with only one cow. He, however, now owns 40 cows.

He has brought some sacrificial animals to a nearby market set up on the occasion of Eid al-Adha and has so far sold a few cows.

“I was inspired by some other youths who own cow farms. There was a huge demand-supply gap as cows were not coming from India. So, I took the opportunity. Now, I employ five men in my two farms – one for milk production while another is dedicated to providing sacrificial animals,” he told Anadolu Agency on phone.

Fivefold increase in cattle farming

Another entrepreneur Mir Kashem Ali, 45, resigned from a job in the information technology sector to start cow farming four years ago.

“I was dreaming of becoming a cattle farmer and the cow ban from the Indian side was a perfect opportunity to make a start. In the last three years I got my investment return with sufficient profit,” he said.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Secretary of the Bangladesh Dairy Farmers’ Association Mohammad Shah Emran said private investment in cattle farming has increased fivefold in the last seven years.

“Fresh graduates and new entrepreneurs are now the leaders in the sector. We have now become self-sufficient in meat production while our milk production has also raised to three times,” he added.

To protect the domestic cattle industry, the Bangladeshi government has now imposed restrictions to disallow any cattle trade along its borders with India.

Zeenat Sultana, deputy director of the Department of Livestock Services, said the authorities have tightened vigilance so that cows do not cross the border from the Indian side.

“We are now surplus in meat production. Bangladesh had 44 million metric tons of meat demand in the last year and it produced 46.9 million metric tons of meat locally,” she added.

She said that the government has now focused on milk production, as the country is yet to gain self-sufficiency in milk.

[Photo: A view of wholesale cattle market in Anwara upazila of Chittagong on the occasion o fEid-al-Adha in Chittagong, Bangladesh on June 28, 2022.
Photojournalist :Mohammad Shajahan/ AA]

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