As sacrificial animals, buitta and white cows of Munshiganj's Mirkadim are very popular among old Dhaka dwellers as the meat of these cows is considered to be of premium quality with a distinctly superior taste.
To keep their tradition on, the farmers of Mirkadim have shown a lot of interest in rearing both types of cows targeting Eid-ul-Adha. This year, at least a dozen farmers have been rearing white and buitta cows.
Cattle farm owners there are now busy in fattening white and buitta cows to sell those in the Rahmatganj animal market in Old Dhaka. They usually start rearing these cows a year ago targeting the animal market.
During a spot visit, this correspondent saw farmers in Ramgopalpur and Enayet Nagar villages of Mirkadim busy rearing cows. Alongside buitta and white cows, Mirkadim farmers are fattening Nepali, Hasha, Mondi, Western, and Sindhi-breeds cows.
However, many of them lost interest in the profession and the number of farms is also declining due to continuous losses and rising prices of cattle feed, pushing Mirkadim's white and buitta cows on the verge of extinction.
According to the farmers, Mirkadem cows are rectangular in shape and white in colour with a pink hue. The meat of these cows is delicious as they are reared with special care. So the price and demand is also high.
These cows will be sold in the big markets of the capital, especially in old Dhaka's Rahmatganj market.
However, for the last several years, affluent businessmen of old Dhaka came to Mirkadim to buy cows a few months before Eid. They go from house to house and buy cows whenever they choose. Then give the responsibility and cost to the sellers to rear the cows until Eid. Thus, many cows were sold before they reached the haat.
The elite families of old Dhaka still consider Mirkadim's cow sacrifice as a family tradition. This is one of the reasons why there is a lot of demand for Mirkadim cows.
Farmers said even though buitta cows of Mirkadim are small in size, they look attractive and their meat is soft and delicious.
Also, the height of Nepali cows is very attractive. Although Sindhi has many colors, Western and Hahsa cows are white. These white cows are taller than other cows. The demand for these cows is quite high in the cattle market.
Md Billal Hossain, the owner of Mirkadim Agro, said six to seven months before Eid-ul-Azha, they bought small and selected cows from different parts of the country targeting the eid.
He said "I have eight Buitta cows in my farm. The price of one buitta cow is Tk80,000. If the price is good, I will start rearing more buitta cows in the future. I have four types of cows in my farm, white garian, Mirkadim gabi, white and sahiwal red."
"Last year we had to count the losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic. If the cows do not come from India then we do not have to count the losses. Eight people are working regularly on my farm. There is no benefit in rearing cows due to the high price of cow feed," he also said.
Farm owner Emon Bepari said the tradition of Mirkadim is white, buitta and Hahsa cows. Gradually farmers are joining other professions because if there is a loss a lot of money is owed.
Emon Bepari has fattened 70 bulls including 20 Buitta cows and 30 white cows in his farm targeting Eid. A buita and a white cow have to be sold at the cattle market for Tk60,000. Besides, farmers can sell a big cow for Tk2.5 lakh to Tk3 lakh. The farmers can make a profit of Tk15,000 to Tk70,000 depending on the size of the cows.
He is skeptical about the business this year due to the Covid-19 situation. If the lockdown is lingered then farmers will have to face huge losses, he added.
Munshiganj district livestock officer Dr Kumud Ranjan Mitra said many farmers are reluctant to rear cows due to the high price of cow feed although Mirkadim cows are in great demand. From the livestock office, we are giving advice on how to fatten cows naturally at a low cost.
This will help the farmer benefit at a lower cost and restore the lost tradition of Mirkadim cattle, he hopes.