The unusual hike in animal feed prices triggered by the dual shocks of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine war, the rise in leasing of money for permanent and temporary cattle markets, and extortion during livestock transportation could lead to an increase of sacrificial animal prices abnormally during the coming Eid-ul-Adha, according a report by the Special Branch (SB) of Bangladesh Police.
The SB has submitted the report to the Ministry of Commerce for necessary steps to be taken to stabilise the market in light of such concerns.
The report notes that the global economy has been in jeopardy owing to rising food and fuel oil prices caused by the pandemic and the war. The crisis has also hit export and import activities hard across the globe.
Capitalising on this situation, some unscrupulous traders of the country have destabilised the market by unreasonably increasing the prices of animal feed and raw materials, the report reads.
Prices of livestock and poultry feed have gone up by 30%-40% in the last five months. That includes prices of maize going up by 50%-60%, of soybean meal by 30%-35% and of wheat by 20%-30%.
Generally, animal feed prices go up just before Eid-ul-Adha every year, but this year prices have been on a rise for the last six months. As a result, fish, meat and eggs have been getting costlier, the report mentions.
It expresses concern that if the authorities fail to take steps to rationalise feed price and normalise supply, prices of cattle may have an unusual increase during the coming Eid.
Feed producers in Bangladesh use maize, soybean meal, rice husk, flour, mustard oil, oil, vitamins, minerals, etc., as the main raw materials. Russia and Ukraine supply about 20% of the world's maize, which supply has been disrupted by the war. Other major exporting countries of this crop are India, the United States, Brazil and Argentina.
According to those in the business of rearing cattle, the prices of sacrificial animals may go up by 25%-40% this year as there is sign of any progress in the market situation.
Arafat Rubel, owner of Saudagar Agro Farm in Rajshahi, told The Business Standard, "I sold a three-maund cow last year for Tk70,000-Tk80,000. This year the price of a cow of the same size will cost at least Tk1 lakh."
The report also mentions extortion as a major reason behind the rise in cattle prices. It notes that there is a possibility of extortion in different places during the transportation of the animals.
Moreover, unusually high lease rates for permanent and temporary livestock markets can increase animal prices further.
Imran Hossain, president of Bangladesh Dairy Farmers Association, said, "We face the problem of extortion every year during animal transportation. This time we have requested the people concerned to take action in this regard."
Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim recently acknowledged that there is a shortage of livestock in several divisions of the country this year and that the Road Transport and Highways Division has been requested to help normalise animal transport to these divisions.
He also asked the law enforcement agencies to ensure that there is no extortion during the transportation of animals on the road this year.
According to sources, at present the number of sacrificial animals in the country is 1.21 crore. However, there is a deficit of 17 lakh animals against the demand in Dhaka, Chattogram and Sylhet divisions.
If the supply of feed is not ensured through market supervision and prices are not kept at a tolerable level, there will be a shortfall in sacrificial animals at the upcoming Eid-ul-Adha and buyers will have to purchase animals at higher prices, the report said.
Livestock traders suffered losses due to the decline in demand for poultry and meat during the Covid-19 pandemic as a large portion of their products remained unsold.
The report states that although there is a huge demand for poultry and meat in the country right now, entrepreneurs are afraid of incurring losses as the production cost has gone up drastically.