Agriculture is the main source of strength and hope in all disasters or epidemics in our country. The term “Agriculture” includes agriculture, livestock and fisheries. The foundation stone of this success was laid by the hand of the Father of the Nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as he was the man who gave respect of class one to the agriculturists and special importance to the agricultural education and research. Following in his footsteps, under the wise leadership of Hon'ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the country today is self-sufficient in food, self-sufficient in meat production, near self-sufficient in milk and egg production, fifth in the world in goat production and role model in fish production. The key to understand the importance of a sector is to measure it’s contributions to GDP. Accurate and factual information helps in understanding the importance of a sector, just as it helps policy makers in identifying important sectors and making the right decisions.
According to GDP data for 2018-19 (Table Comparative Figure of Contribution of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries to GDP) –GDP 2018-19 At current prices Fixed price Agriculture contributes to GDP
Although the contribution of the agro-fisheries sector is well reflected in the data of the above table, the data of the livestock sector is not accurately revealed. The picture would be unrealistic if we compare the information of fisheries as a constant to highlight the contribution of livestock. According to the annual report of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock for the year 2018-19, about 80% of the total animal protein supply of the country comes from the livestock sector.
According to the report-
• Fisheries production - 43.81 lakh tons
• Meat production - 75.14 lakh tons• Milk production - 99.23 lakh tons
• Egg production - 1711 crore.
Compared to the contribution of fisheries, there is no chance that the contribution of livestock to the GDP seems realistic. Considering only meat production, the contribution of livestock is 1.7 times more than fish, excluding milk and eggs! But the contribution of livestock to the gross domestic product (GDP) is only 1.79%, of fisheries is 3.07% !!!
While the dairy industry is an emerging and established industry, the poultry sector is one of the largest sectors in the country.
The rural economy is revolving around the livestocks. Not only is that, thousands of local and foreign companies doing business in this sector. More than 500 types of food are made from broilers alone, hundreds of products from milk! Thousands of feed mills, medicine production, imports, marketing, hatcheries, breeders, parents, commercial farms, sales, transportation systems as well as chicken and meat processing plants are being set up. The use of milk and eggs in bakery products is universal. Along with this, backyard poultry and other livestock which is acting as a living bank in the rural economy, not only meeting the nutritional needs but also contributing to the empowerment, education, treatment and quality of life of women. Haor and rivers sustaining millions of ducks seems to be out of sight! Due to the changed eating habits, people are leaning towards animal meat day by day. In addition to nutrition security, 20% of the total labor force is directly and 50% indirectly involved in the livestock sector. The livestock sector can be the largest source of employment for the educated unemployed.
Leather and leather products of the country are important by-products of livestock. Their contributions to industrial production and GDP are 2% and 0.6%, respectively. With respect to contributions made for export in 2017-18, the leather industry is just after garments. In 2017, the Bangladesh government declared leather, leather goods and leather footwear as “Products of the Year”. According to the Ministry of Commerce's leather sector export outline, the target is set to become amongst the top 10 countries in the world in leather exports by 2025 and export of 500 crore US Dollar by 2021. (Export Outline of Leather Sector, Ministry of Commerce, 2/19). However, it is frustrating not to consider such an important and promising sector as a contribution of livestock. It is generally understood that the amount of skin is negligible compared to the whole body of livestock animals! If the contribution of leather industry to GDP is 0.6%, then how can the contribution of whole animal be less than leather. Maybe we will talk about value addition when it comes to processed leather products, but what will be the total contribution to GDP with milk, eggs and meat? Therefore the real contribution of livestock to GDP will be much more than the current data.
Without worrying about cause responsible for the failure to establish the truth, I would like to draw the attention of all concerned, especially the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock and the Department of Livestock, to ensure that proper assessment of livestock in GDP will ensure development as well as send the right message to state policy makers. It is hoped that the dynamic leadership of the Hon'ble Minister and Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock will ensure the provision of all the information that will take the livestock far ahead.
The writer is a Veterinary Surgeon, Department of Livestock Services. Email: [email protected]