Cattle farmers of Rangpur division are worried about getting fair prices for their animals days before Eid-ul-Azha, although the authorities said they have taken steps to ensure profit.
The farmers said customers are offering less than the expected price, probably due to the economic impacts of Covid-19.
According to the Divisional Livestock Department in Rangpur, 1.56 lakh farmers of all eight districts have prepared at least nine lakh sacrificial animals this year, including around five lakh cows, bulls and buffaloes.
Around two lakh animals are in surplus in the districts, and 400 cattle markets are being set up.
For the first time, the local livestock department and deputy commissioner's office have taken steps to sell cattle online. Through the service, potential buyers will be able to get information about the cattle and farmers' contacts.
Additionally, this year, cattle will be transported on both railways and roads.
Officials in Rangpur said all eight districts have a surplus of sacrificial animals. If buyers from other deficit districts do not take animals from them, many farmers would be in trouble.
Besides, sale will not be as expected, as the economic condition of rural and urban people is bad due to the pandemic and floods. "Ten percent of the cattle are expected to remain unsold," said an official.
Farmers said many of them could not sell their animals last year, possibly due to a similar surplus.
Rafiqul Islam, a farmer from Dinajpur Sadar upazila, said he started rearing six bulls eight months ago, investing a huge amount of money. Recently, potential buyers saw the bulls over video-call.
The buyers offered Tk 3.5 lakh for all six bulls, but Rafiqul said he would incur a loss if they are not sold for Tk 5 lakh at least. "Everything, including fodder, is expensive now."
Similarly, Rezwanul Haq, owner of a farm "Livestock Complex" in Rangpur city, said he has 15 cows for sale and would face losses if each one is sold below Tk 60,000. "I spent Tk 3,000 daily just to rear the cows for the last five months."
He came across several customers but the price they offered is terrible, he said.
Finding no other option, Saiful Islam, another farmer living in the city, sold his cow at a cheap price, after estimating that further delays to sell it can bring losses.
Most farmers said they are getting overwhelming response online, but the prices offered is frustrating. Hence, farmers are displaying their cattle in the markets, risking their health.
Similar comments came from several farmers from other districts -- including Thakurgaon, Nilphamari and Kurigram.
Most markets in Dinajpur were overcrowded, with little care about maintaining social distancing and wearing masks. There are 60 markets in the district's 13 upazilas.
Dr Habibul Haq, deputy director of Divisional Livestock Department in Rangpur, said there will be no shortage of cattle in these districts. All steps have been taken to ensure profitability through the online marketplace.
Lumpy Skin Disease would not affect sale, he said.
KM Tariqul Islam, divisional commissioner of Rangpur Police Range, said they have taken comprehensive measures to ensure security at 400 cattle markets.