For decades, traditional khats have been the main place for Bangladeshi farmers and traders to sell bulls before Eid-ul-Ahza, one of the biggest festivals for Muslims as the demand for sacrificial animals increases.
This dependence has begun to diminish as digital devices and Internet networks offer a window into digital markets.
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Nationwide, online cattle markets have grown over the past two years to offer a respite to urban shoppers from the hassle of visitors full of cattle homes buying Eid sacrificial animals.
Now, the farmers have come.
In a remote village called Haropara in the northwestern Pabna region, ranchers and traders sell their farmed cattle through online platforms to avoid the hassle of visitors to hats or bazaars following the outbreak of the Covid pandemic.
Mr. Ashraful Alam, a small rancher in the village below Pabna, one of the largest dairy and livestock areas, is one of them.
He sold all three bulls he raises through an online platform maintained by one of his colleagues. They took photos and videos of the bulls and posted them on YouTube and Facebook for sale.
“It provides great relief from inconvenience. I do not need to calculate additional costs for transporting cattle from one haat to another,” he said.
Alam is one of more than 150 breeders who have sold their bulls online. By noon yesterday, they could sell nearly 3,500 bulls out of 4,000 online.
The number of sales is insignificant in terms of total sales of cattle nationwide through goats and also through an online market developed and operated under government protection so that people can buy animals by avoiding physical contact and preventing the spread of the contagious virus.
To date, approximately 3.50 million cattle have been sold through online platforms at Tk 2.424 million through online purchases monitored by the Livestock Services Department (DLS).
Farmers in Pabna’s Haropara village expected the remaining 500 bulls to be sold online before Eid.
Mr. Shahabul Islam, a cattle trader in Pabna’s Haropara, said he used to sell cattle to local homes a few years ago and often did not make the expected profits due to the hassle of buying cattle.
Now, it is free of tension.
“I often buy cows from local farmers and outside the village a month before Eid-ul-Azha and go to feed the animal. “I then take photos and videos of the animal and upload it to Facebook and YouTube under the name of my cattle farm, ABC Farm, including my cell phone numbers,” Sahabul said.
“If buyers like an animal they see, contact me. If I get the expected price, then I give my word for the sale. However, buyers send us money through banks and then I send the animal to the desired address in a vehicle.” , he added.
“If anyone wants to keep the cattle on my farm, then we get an extra charge of Tk 3,000 for maintenance per month,” he said.
Sahabul has nine bulls on his farm. However, he bought 10 more last week and sold at least 15 by Friday.
Mr Abdul Kader, who has been selling his farm cattle online since 2017, said he has sold nearly 2,000 bulls online from this village.
“Now we expect to sell more this year, as many people are dependent on online shopping due to the worrying situation of Covid,” he said.
Kader has 117 fattening cattle. Of these, 110 sold by Friday. He said big cattle traders and manufacturers were the main buyers of e-shopping.
Once the animals are sold, they are transported to the place chosen by the buyers by truck.
“The big traders or their representatives come to our village after seeing the animals on our electronic platform and completing offers through electronic transactions,” he said.
Mr Johurul Islam, an active Vangura upazila livestock officer in Pabna, said Haropara village ranchers and traders have set an example of digital marketing.
“Because of the alarming spread of the Koran virus, we always ask everyone to operate the cattle markets according to the health guidelines, but no one does. We encourage farmers to sell on online platforms. Farmers in Haropara Village set an example through their own initiatives, “he said.