After a period of low to no trade, sales at cattle markets in Barishal finally picked up around noon yesterday.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, only six permanent cattle markets and four makeshift markets are operating across the city this year.
Barishal district administration sources said they allowed 35 markets to operate in the 10 upazilas of the district this year. Last year, this number was 66 in the district (except Barishal City Corporation).
Even though prices are low this year, farmers and traders struggled to sell until yesterday. Sabuj Howlader, a cattle trader who came to the city all the way from Kushtia, said he was yet to make satisfactory sales until Tuesday.
Cattle trader Khalil Payada said he brought six bulls to the market, but could only sell two as of Sunday. According to another trader Shamsur Rahman, customers were only visiting the markets, sometimes without even bargaining.
To add to their woes, Eid coinciding with monsoon seasons means transport costs are higher and cattle fodder is costlier. There is also a shortage of workers due to the pandemic.
Due to heavy rainfall over the last few days, the supply could not increase as there was an acute shortage of space as well as a crisis of fodder, said BCC market inspector Abdur Razzak.
Shahabuddin Ahmed, commissioner of Barishal Metropolitan Police, said they have increased patrolling in both uniform and plain clothes at entrance points and on roads and highways to prevent extortion, mugging and pick-pocketing. Police have also installed fake currency detection booths at the markets, said Saiful Islam, district police superintendent.
HEALTH REGULATIONS FALL FLAT AT MARKETS
Even though cattle markets in the city are up and running, traders and customers are being asked to maintain strict health guidelines as the coronavirus pandemic is yet to dissipate. In this regard, cautionary signs and guidelines are put up all across the markets.
Yet, while visiting the markets in the city such as Rupatoli, Baghia, Port Road cattle markets in the last couple of days, this correspondent found most buyers, sellers, and visitors completely ignoring the regulations. Rather than wearing masks and maintaining distance, people were seen huddling in and commuting in groups.
Yunus Ali, a lessee at a cattle market, acknowledged that regulations are completely flouted at the markets. "The administration should be stricter to prevent these violations," he said.
Contacted, ASM Ajiur Rahman, deputy commissioner of Barishal, said, "We have instructed the lessees to maintain health regulations, but they are not following the directions properly. We will ensure strict monitoring at the markets with the help of law enforcers."