Adequate protein still a challenge
Ensuring adequate protein intake for the country's growing population will remain a challenge as the gap between the demand and supply of livestock products, particularly meat, milk and eggs, will widen extensively in 2015, according to a recent study.
There will be a deficit of 3.31 million tonnes of meat, 2.66 billion eggs, and 3.37 million litres of milk next year, finds the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) in its study titled "Barriers to the Development of Livestock Sub-sector in Bangladesh".
Findings show that the livestock sub-sector faces many challenges, including animal disease, a lack of availability of hybrid animals, a lack of knowledge about maintaining the hybrid varieties, a wide gap in the outputs of the traditional, intensive and semi-intensive livestock farming, and a lack of organised market for selling farm produce.
Animal diseases are responsible for half of the death of all livestock population, the study says.
The study projects that the demand for meat will hit 4.72 million tonnes by 2015, whereas the supply of meat is likely to stand at 1.41 million tonnes. By the same time, about 10.36 billion eggs will be required, against the estimated production of 7.70 billion. In the case of milk, the estimated demand and supply will stand at about 7.28 litres and 3.91 litres respectively.
Inadequate coverage of animal health and the low investment in the livestock research and poor management are also major concerns for the development of the livestock sector, which contributes 2.5 percent to the country's GDP.
Though livestock is an important sub-sector in the agriculture, its contribution to agricultural GDP is even lower than that of the fisheries, the study says.
The contribution of animal farming has remained largely stagnant with a share of around 13 percent of agricultural GDP over the last two decades, whereas the share of fisheries considerably increased from 15 percent in the fiscal 1989-1990 to 23 percent in 2011-2012.
With a view to reducing the demand-supply gap, the study made recommendations of taking up appropriate policies to remove the barriers so that the sub-sector can grow to its full potential and meet the future demand of the country's growing population.
It emphasised increasing productivity of smallholder farmers, expanding commercial production and ensuring better marketing facilities especially for smallholders.
It also recommended ensuring feed and fodder at affordable prices to the smallholders and poor farmers, providing training to cattle breeders, providing long-term credit at affordable rate to the smallholders and poor farmers, investing in research and development in the sub-sector, and improving the institutional capacities of related agencies.
The study says policy and institutional reforms of the Department of Livestock Services are needed to meet the new challenges set forth by globalisation, trade liberalisation and the World Trade Organization regulations.