Rashedul Hasan of Chattogram's Fatikchhari buys cattle from Sirajganj and Natore every year two to three months before Eid-ul-Azha. He fattens the cattle for selling those in different haats (markets of sacrificial animals) in Chattogram.
Last year, he fattened 33 head of sacrificial cattle and sold those in different haats.
Rashedul has been doing the seasonal trade since 2008. He has built permanent infrastructure for rearing and fattening the cattle. But this year, he has not bought any cattle due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Rashedul said, "Every year, I bring cattle from North Bengal two to three months before Eid-ul-Azha. This year also I had the preparation thinking that the situation would be normal. But I have not bought any as the situation has not changed."
Not only Rashedul, several other seasonal traders of sacrificial animals said they were not doing the business this year due to transport crisis, closure of haats and reduced purchasing capacity of people.
According to the district livestock office, the number of seasonal traders of sacrificial animals there is 245. The demand of sacrificial animals in this year's Eid-ul-Adha is 7.31 lakh whereas the number of local supply of cattle is 6,10,219.
However, the traders said the actual number of seasonal traders in Chattogram was several times higher than the government estimate.
Md Shafikur Rahman, president of Chattogram Cattle Traders Association, said, "Expatriates from Chattogram come back home from abroad before Eid and do the cattle business. There are more than 1,000 seasonal cattle traders in the district. But this year, activities of these seasonal traders in the markets are not that much visible."
Apart from the local cattle traders, traders from different districts come to the district to sell cattle ahead of Eid.
Mofijul Islam, a resident of Lalpur in Natore, is one of those traders. He sells cattle at Chowdhury Haat in the port city's Pahartali area every year.
"I have a cattle farm in Natore. I fatten cattle only to sell those in Chattogram's haat. This time I have reared over 100 head of cattle. But I have come to know from the traders of Chattogram that this year the haat in Pahartali may not be held. So I have decided to take the cattle to Chattogram this time," said Mofijul.
Dr Mohammad Reazul Haque, the district's livestock official, said, "There will be no crisis in the supply of sacrificial cattle in Chattogram this year. As different social programmes, including Mejban (a traditional feast of Chattogram), could not take place due to coronavirus, there are sufficient cows in the farms."
However, there was a possibility of decreasing the number of sacrificial cattle's customers this year, said the official.
He further said, "Naturally, coronavirus crisis has reduced the purchasing capacity of people. So the number of customers may decrease. However, it is difficult to say to what extent the number will fall."
There are 63 permanent and 143 temporary cattle markets in Chattogram. The district administration has not given permission to three markets out of 10 in the city.
Md Elias Hossen, deputy commissioner of the district, said, "We are discouraging the temporary markets. However, proper health guidelines have to be maintained strictly in the markets. Otherwise, we will not allow the market."