Bangladesh must take steps to formalise cattle trade with India, to help keep the local market stable, local traders said yesterday.
Beef prices are soaring mainly due to a reduction in supply of cattle from India and the drawn-out countrywide blockade that drastically disrupted the supply chain as well as increased transportation costs, they said at a press conference in Dhaka.
A kilogram of beef now sells at Tk 320-350 in different kitchen markets and retail shops, up from Tk 280-300 a month ago.
“There is an urgent need to increase the supply of cattle from India to stabilise local meat price since Bangladesh has a short supply,” said Golam Mourtaza, president of Bangladesh Meat Merchant Association.
Usually, 3,000 to 3,500 heads of local and imported cattle are brought to the capital from different districts including Kushtia, Chuadanga and Satkhira a day. But the figure has now fallen to just 1,000-1,200, according to the association.
The dearth of supply has pushed up the prices of cattle, said Robiul Alam, general secretary of the association. “We are now buying a 100-kg bull at Tk 40,000-42,000, compared to Tk 30,000-32,000 two and a half months ago. ” The blockade has already more than doubled the transportation cost of cattle, as businessmen are now paying Tk 30,000-35,000 for each truck rented to bring cattle from Putkhali near Benapole port to Dhaka, instead of the usual fares of Tk 12,000-14,000, he said.
Currently, the capital's demand for beef hovers around 12 tonnes a day, but the supply has now dwindled to less than six tonnes, Alam said.
Indian cattle meet a significant portion of the country's total beef demand, even though the supply is largely reliant on informal trade over the border. The trade has declined in the last two and a half months due to strict monitoring of the border areas, they said. Regardless of how the cattle reach the border, the traders will have to pay a Tk 500 fee to get entry into Bangladesh, Alam said.
The meat traders also urged the government to take steps to import cattle from Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar to reduce dependence on Indian cattle.
Bangladesh has more than 1 lakh butcher shops, including around 675 in Dhaka, according to the association.