Wednesday, 17 August, 2022

Skyrocketing fodder prices leave cattle farmers fretting ahead of Eid

Skyrocketing fodder prices leave cattle farmers fretting ahead of Eid

With barely three-four days left for Eid-ul-Azha, cattle farmer Azizul Haque is a bit worried. The reason -- he has not been able to fatten naturally the four bulls he has been rearing since last October.

Like him, many small-time farmers in Bangladesh have been struggling to feed their cattle properly since March 2022 as retail inflation has taken a toll on fodder. And most of them are yet to fix a good asking price for the sacrificial animals.

These farmers say that the prices of staple cattle feeds such as wheat bran, rice bran, oil cake, maize, Indian peas and molasses have all increased two to three-fold of late.

"I may not be able to cash on the growing demand for meat this Eid. This is because I could not spend much on fodder to naturally fatten my bulls ahead of Eid. Retail inflation is really pinching," says Azizul.

Take for instance, maize. Its price has doubled in the past one year -- from Tk 17-18 per kg in 2021 to Tk 33-34 per kg this year. Similarly, wheat bran now costs Tk 60 a kg, up by 100% from last year's price.

Khail (oil cake) was available for Tk 32 a kg and Indian peas for Tk 34-36 per kg in 2021. This year, Khail is being sold at Tk 50 per kg and Indian pea at Tk 55-60 per kg.

Vai Vai Cattle Farm in Mymensingh that rears almost 200 to 300 cattle for every Eid has been hit by the rising fodder prices too.

"People will also have to spend more money for buying sacrificial animals. Each animal will cost almost Tk5,000 to TK 10,000 more this Eid. Quality cattle will really be a costly deal for potential customers," says owner Milon Hossain.

"Many farmers who own two or three bulls have already sold their cattle to our farm," he adds.

"People who plan to buy a sacrificial animal this Eid will have to hike their budget this year as compared to last year," says Alamin Hossain, manager of Bushara Organic Agro Farm, a venture of Prome Agro.

According to the Feed Industries Association of Bangladesh, the annual demand for animal feed here is around 6.4-million tonnes -- poultry 60%, fish 25% and cattle feed 15%.

The prices of these products have been rising for more than a year now. Moreover, transportation costs have also increased, as per the Association.

There are around 1.21 crore animals suitable for sacrifice in the country, against the demand of 97.75 lakh. But there is a shortage of 15.37 lakh animals in Dhaka division, 22,000 in Chattogram, and two lakh in Sylhet.

On the other hand, there is a surplus of 25 lakh sacrificial cattle in Rajshahi division, 4.78 lakh in Khulna, 1.76 lakh in Barishal, 7.67 lakh in Rangpur, and 1.84 lakh in Mymensingh as compared to demand.

On Eid-ul-Azha, more than one crore animals, including cows, buffaloes and goats, are usually sacrificed in the country. But the number of animal sacrifices has been declining since the Covid pandemic.

According to the Department of Livestock, over one crore animals were sacrificed in the country in 2019. The following year, 94 lakh animals were sacrificed. Last year, the figure dropped further.

This year, a total of 4,407 Eid cattle markets will be set up across the country. Ten cattle markets will be set up in the Dhaka North City Corporation area and 12 in the Dhaka South city Corporation area.