Chattogram division tops online sales of sacrificial animals in the country, accounting for 54% of the total sales till 16 July among the eight divisions.
Buyers are increasingly focusing on online platforms to purchase sacrificial animals due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
To avoid infections, buyers are purchasing animals by going to farms in different cities and upazilas instead of going to the conventional cattle markets.
Under government initiatives, this year, 602 cattle markets have been organised in the eight divisions.
Besides, 15 private online cattle markets and 1,753 social media-based markets have been organised in the divisions.
On the online cattle markets, sacrificial animals worth Tk167.92 crore are being sold every day on average.
Until Friday, animals worth Tk1,832.97 crore have been sold online this year in the eight divisions, according to the livestock department.
According to the livestock department, animals worth Tk981.68 crore were sold online in Chattogram division till 16 July.
In Rajshahi division, animals worth Tk235.92 crore were sold online till Saturday, according to the local livestock department office. Till Saturday, 41,281 animals were sold online in the division.
According to the Rajshahi livestock department office, 142 online cattle markets have been organised under government initiatives in the division.
Five private online cattle markets and 1,109 social-media-based markets have also been set up. Animals are being sold from these online markets every day.
Uttam Kumar Das, director of the Rajshahi livestock department office, said sacrificial animals are being sold online since last year due to the ongoing pandemic.
"We are also encouraging farmers to sell animals online. This year, our target is to sell animals worth Tk500 crore online," he said.
"Apart from this, 203 markets in Rajshahi have been selling animals for the last three days. Farmers are taking a lot of animals from Rajshahi division to different parts of the country, including Dhaka, Chattogram, Noakhali and Cumilla, for sale. In Rajshahi, 24 lakh animals are eligible for sacrifice while about 17 lakh sacrifices are made every year," he added.
Compared to the increasing online sales, the response of buyers in the conventional cattle markets of Chattogram district is very poor, leaving the lessees of the markets in trouble.
Lessees of the district's cattle markets are worried whether they will be able to get back their investment of millions of taka as the sale of animals is less compared to the previous years.
According to the livestock department office of Chattogram, there are 222 cattle markets in the district. Of these, 12 are in Chattogram city while the rest are in 15 upazilas of the district. Among the markets, 60 are permanent while 162 are temporary.
Acting livestock officer of Chattogram district Dr Shetu Bhusan Das said the demand for sacrificial animals in the district is 8.09 lakh this year.
The market value of the animals is about Tk8,000 crore. There are around 7.52 lakh animals in the 4,217 permanent and 13,000 seasonal farms of the district.
The remaining 57,000 animals in demand have started coming to the cattle markets from different parts of the country after the withdrawal of the lockdown.
He said 35,000 cows were sold online and 71,000 in the cattle markets in Chattogram until 15 July. The market value of these animals is about Tk1,100 crore.
By Eid day, the online sale of animals will exceed two lakh, worth Tk2,000 crore. About 25% of the total demand will be sold online.
According to the lessees of various cattle markets, this year sales are comparatively less than they were last year. Sales in leased cattle markets have decreased due to online sales and setting up of cattle markets in different lanes and alleys of Chattogram city.
Abul Kamal Azad Babul, lessee of Sagarika cattle market, said, "I have taken the Sagarika market on lease at Tk11 crore this year. I am worried whether I can get back the lease money as sales are very poor due to the illegal cattle markets in different alleys of the city. Therefore, I demand that the administration shut down the illegal cattle markets of Chattogram."
Illegal cattle markets have emerged in different upazilas also, alleged the lessees of upazila level markets.
The government has leased Mithachara Bazar, a large cattle market at Mirsarai upazila in Chattogram, at Tk1.38 crore this year.
Due to increased online sales and the setting up of unauthorisd markets, the lessee of this market is also in doubt as to whether he will get back the money invested.
Saiful Islam, lessee of Mithachara Bazar, said, "The sale of animals in the market is much less due to the online sales. Moreover, we are facing huge losses due to the setting up of unauthorised animal markets at different places."
Saiful too has demanded an immediate shutdown of unauthorised cattle markets.
Mirsarai upazila livestock officer Dr Shyamal Poddar said 40,000 cows have been prepared at about 400 commercial cattle farms in Mirsarai this year on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha.
Until Friday (16 July), 8,000 cows had been sold online. Around 14,000 cows are expected to be sold online till Eid-ul-Adha.
"Although the government is losing revenue due to the increasing online sale of sacrificial animals, the initiative is very positive in preventing corona infection. This is benefiting both the farmer and the buyer," he said.
Sohel Rana, assistant manager of Nahar Agro Group, said, "We have 450 cows ready for sale. As of last Friday, 187 cows have been sold. These cows are being sold online and offline from the farm at Bayezid Link Road in Chattogram city.
Rahat al-Pritam, an online buyer of sacrificial animals, said due to the deteriorating pandemic situation, he did not have the courage to go to the cattle market. "So, I purchased a cow from the farm after seeing it online," he added.