Covid-19 pandemic has impacted almost all businesses in the country, except the Baishmouja cattle market in Brahmanbaria.
Baishmouja, on the east bank of the River Meghna in Nabinagar upazila, is one of the largest cattle markets in Bangladesh. According to the lessee and cattle traders, the market, which is held every Tuesday, has a trade of Tk9-Tk10 crore.
Lessee Afzal Hossain said that despite the coronavirus pandemic, hundreds of cattle traders, and farmers from different regions, including Cumilla, Chandpur, Kishoreganj, Narsingdi, Rajshahi, Khulna and Kushtia, throng the weekly market to buy and sell cattle. From Monday onwards, boats loaded with cattle start anchoring at the riverbank.
Around 1,000-1,500 cows, buffalos and goats are sold and purchased in the market every Tuesday.
The buyers pay tolls of Tk100-Tk500 per cow or buffalo, and Tk-50-Tk100 per goat, irrespective of prices.
"Buyers and sellers in the weekly market pay tolls as desired. Many traders do not pay tolls for goats, and we do not force them to do so either," said Afzal.
According to many traders, toll collection was lower than in other cattle markets of the country, said many traders.
Monir Hossain, a buyer from Chandpur, said, "I buy cows from different markets and sell them to farmers in my locality. I visit this market every Tuesday as a variety of cows are sold here. Also, cows are cheaper in this market. In every other market, tolls depend on cow prices. But in Baishmouja, the maximum payable toll is Tk500, irrespective of the price. So, I can make a profit if I buy cows from here."
Moreover, the traders do not have to face extortion in this market. The overall security of the cattle traders is ensured by the lessee.
Mokhlesur Rahman, a cattle trader from Kushtia, told The Business Standard, "Two cattle traders and I have come to this market with 120 cows. All the cows will be sold out. Though we have travelled quite a distance, we do not face any difficulties here. The lessee and his people, who are in charge of the market, take care of us."
Jakir Hossain, a cattle trader from Narsingdi's Raipura upazila, said he had been selling cows in Baishmouja market for 10 years. He sells eight to 10 cows every Tuesday.
Nabinagar upazila administration leases the market every year. This year, Afzal Hossain, general secretary of Birgaon Union Awami League, has taken out a lease on the market for Tk18 lakh. He collects several lakh takas in tolls every Tuesday.
Over the last 50 years, cattle trade has been flourishing in Baishmouja market, located on around 0.64 hectares of land (four bighas) in Amtali and Shibpur mouja of Birgaon union in Nabinagar.
Since land size taken on lease is relatively small, additional land had to be rented to accommodate the large number of traders, said Afzal.
The residents of the 22 villages under Birgaon and Krishnanagar unions have named the market, Baishmouja.