Fewer cattle sacrificed this Eid too
The number of cattle sacrificed on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha dropped for the second year as the ongoing second wave of coronavirus cases and the growing economic costs of the pandemic dampened the spirit of the religious festival.
A total of 90.9 lakh cows, buffalos, goats, sheep and other animals were sacrificed this year, down about 3.8 percent from a year earlier, according to data from the Department of Livestock Services (DLS).
Many well-offs who used to slaughter two to three cows opted for just one cow this time for the sake of rituals, said Debashis Das, a director at the DLS.
In 2019, 1.06 crore animals were sacrificed on the occasion, the second biggest festival in the country and the major source of raw material for the country's promising leather and leather goods industry.
Small cows were in high demand during the last two Eid-ul-Azha, while the demand for big bulls plummeted, according to Das.
These trends may have been brought on by the financial hardship brought on by the pandemic, he added.
The development can be viewed as a blow to the country's meat production industry, which began growing with gusto in 2014, right after the BJP-led government imposed a ban on cattle export from India, a major source of sacrificial animals for Bangladesh.
The ban coupled with the improving purchasing power capacity of Bangladeshis brought on by the stellar economic growth clocked in over the past decade meant cow fattening targeting Eid-ul-Azha became a lucrative venture in the hinterlands.
In 2017, 44.7 lakh cows were slaughtered on Eid-ul-Azha. In 2019, the number stood at 56.6 lakh.
According to industry insiders, despair among the cattle traders and farmers were high this year as many had to leave Dhaka with their unsold cows, incurring huge financial losses.
More than 28 lakh cows have remained unsold this Eid, according to Md Shah Emran, secretary of the Bangladesh Dairy Farmers' Association.
A cow trader in Keraniganj told The Daily Star that he bought 13 cows from Kushtia three days before Eid-ul-Azha, which was celebrated in Bangladesh on July 21, and all of the cows remained unsold.
"The marginalised cow farmers suffered a lot last year and this year the financial woes would be bigger," Emran said.
Although the country has become self-sufficient in meat production, the farmers are not getting financial benefit due to the increasing cost of cow feed and electricity, he added.