A private export-import firm has sought government permission to import 0.1 million buffaloes and goats with an eye to meet domestic demand for meat and go for re-export with enhanced production of the animals, officials said.
The firm, Save and Safety International (SSI), has made the move for commercial farming as a negligible volume of buffalo meat against the demand is produced in Bangladesh while part of the rest is met with meats smuggled in, insiders said.
The output of such animals has increased in Asian countries, excepting Bangladesh, to meet bulging protein needs, according to the firm's letter sent to the commerce ministry, seeking approval for the import of 50,000 buffaloes and as many improved-variety goats from India.
Around 2.5 million buffaloes are born annually in the country's 492 upazilas. "It is a very small number against the country's demand," says the firm.
Around 20 million buffaloes are required annually for the country, the firm data showed to underline the demand-supply gap and importance of their initiative in this agricultural sub-sector.
Currently, commercial farming of buffalo is being operated in some 74 countries across the globe, reads the letter.
For lack of sufficient buffaloes, the country has been facing a huge supply shortage of such animals.
Besides, farmers concerned are becoming dependent on smuggled buffaloes to meet the rest of the country's deficit that are entering the country from India, the sources said.
The firm fears that buffalo farming might face a severe blow if the deficit of the stock is not addressed properly.
"Currently, buffalo meats are being imported from neighbouring India to meet such demand in the country. Such meats are being sold and marketed in different ways in disguise," the letter says.
Under the circumstances, people who are buying are not getting their money's worth, that is, standard and nutritious buffalo meats.
The firm claims: "We will be able to increase production and export earnings as well as create employment of several lakh people if the government allows the importing of such cattle."
An official said, "We have received a letter from Save and Safety international. We are working on the issue now."
When contacted, proprietor of Save and Safety international Mehedi Hossain claimed '' the number of buffalos will be increased within a couple of years if the government gives permission to import such animals according to our demand."
Currently, there are 1.5 million buffalos in the country, according to the livestock department.
The department has taken a project (second stage) involving Tk 67 crore to increase the production of milk and meat in the country, according to an official of the department.
In 2020, the country reared over 20 million (2 crore 84 lakh 35 thousand goats. It was 20 million (2 crore 82 lakh 6 thousand) in 2019, according to the Fisheries and Livestock Ministry.
A good number of local cattle farmers, however, said that Bangladesh is self-sufficient in producing cow, goat and sheep. The local farmers who are producing buffalos and goats in the country on their own initiative would face huge losses and challenges if the government gives permission to import such animals.
They have requested the government authorities concerned not to give import permission in this regard.
They have also requested the government to take multiple moves and projects to increase the number of animals in the country.