Many cattle farmers are anticipating that the number of customers may decrease by 20- 30%, and they are concerned about both sales and prices of cattle
The MRK Agro Ltd – an urban farm in Narayanganj – has raised 50 cows to sell them as sacrificial animals ahead of Eid-ul-Adha.
Last year, the farm managed to sell half of its cows one month before Eid, but this year, it has not been able to make a single sale as yet. Despite advertising online, only a few customers contacted the farm so far and the prices they offered were very low.
Making a hefty profit is already a long shot for the farm, and now they are more concerned over whether they will be able to recover the production cost from this year's sale.
Shock from the deadly Covid-19 pandemic has severely affected nearly every sector in Bangladesh, and the Eid cattle trade is also taking a beating.
Responding to a query, MRK Agro's Manager Md Ruhul Amin said, "The production cost per kilogram of meat is more than Tk420. According to this estimate, we have to spend Tk1.70 lakh for raising a cow weighing 400kg.
"Even if we sell a cow at this price, there will be no profit. The number of customers is very low this year."
Several cattle farmers told The Business Standard that they know the number of customers will decrease this year as people's incomes have reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Many of them are anticipating that the number of customers may decrease by 20 to 30 percent, and they are concerned about both sales and prices of cattle.
So, this year, instead of depending on traditional cattle markets (known as haat in Bangla), they are trying to sell the sacrificial animals through online platforms.
People are confused as to whether social distancing will be maintained or not in the markets of sacrificial animals. Many potential buyers might not visit a cattle market. Instead, they will try to purchase cattle online.
Keeping this fact in mind, many big cattle traders have already started advertising online.
Kazi Ferdous, manager of commercial cattle business Abdul Malek Agro Farm in the capital's Khilgaon area, said, "We have raised 80 cows for selling on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha. This time last year we sold half the cattle from our farm.
"But this year, not a single customer has come. That is why we are concerned about getting fair prices."
Shah Emran, general secretary of the Bangladesh Dairy Farmers Association, said there would be no crisis in the supply of cattle, but the demand may decrease by 30 percent.
He explained the reason behind it saying, "Many people have lost their jobs. Service holders are not getting their salaries properly. Many have left Dhaka being unable to pay house rent. Many expatriates have come back home. These people will not be able to buy sacrificial animals."
There are around 1.20 crore sacrificial animals this year, according to the livestock department. Half of the cattle are cows. Last year, the total number of sacrificial cattle was 1.18 crore, while 1.06 crore were sold.
Dr Abdul Jabbar, director general of the Department of Livestock Services, said there would be no shortages in the supply of cattle. But he also expressed concerns about getting sufficient customers.
"There are concerns over getting sufficient customers against the number of cattle, because everybody's income has decreased," he said.
Meanwhile, a survey conducted by Brac, DataSense, and Unnayan Shamannay revealed that the pandemic has severely affected the life of low income people. Around 10.22 crore people in the country have fallen into a financial crunch, and are in a health risk.
At least one person from each of 34 percent of families has lost his or her job. The incomes of around 74 percent families have reduced. The number of jobless expatriates is more than 14 lakh, many of whom either have returned home or are returning to the country, the study says.
Economists are saying that most service holders who have lost their jobs are now somehow running their families with their savings. Many of them will not buy any sacrificial animals this year.
So the cattle farmers and traders will fall in big trouble this year, they think.
Dr Jahangir Alam, agricultural economist and former member of the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Parishad, said, "Farmers raise cattle all throughout the year to sell ahead of Eid-ul-Adha.
"The sale will fall this year as people do not have enough income. In this circumstance, naturally there is a fear over getting fair prices."