After failing to get the desired government job, Jakaria Lenin, a graduate of English literature in Tangail, set up a cattle ranch about 11 months ago.
With the land and financial help of his father, he brought 44 bulls and 6 cows with an investment of 65,000 TK.
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And he had 38 bulls for sale during this year’s Eid-ul-Azha celebrations. It has already sold 21 for 22 million Tk.
“If I can sell all 38 bulls, I will be able to make a profit of a few pounds,” Lenin said.
India’s crackdown on cattle smuggling has pushed him to engage in animal husbandry as demand for local animals has increased in recent years, Lenin said.
Cattle breeding is a new phenomenon that is gaining ground among the country’s youth records since neighboring India in 2014 paid the end to cattle smuggling in Bangladesh.
“This has made Bangladesh autonomous in raising cattle,” said Sid Azizur Rahman, director general of the Department of Animal Husbandry Services (DLS). “Previously, we had to rely on Indian cows during the Qurbani season, but the locally bred bulls met the demand of the last four Eid celebrations,” he added.
Prior to India’s increased vigilance, cattle shares would be increased using traditional methods by farmers in villages.
But now many educated young and traditional farmers have begun to emphasize high quality breeds through artificial insemination.
According to DLS, which started collecting fat bull statistics a few years ago, there were 33.42 million fattening bulls in the country in 2017.
It increased by about 16 percent to 38.58 million in 2021.
Prior to India’s crackdown on smuggling of cattle at the border, Bangladesh depended on the entry of about 20 million cows a year from the neighboring country.
The illegal business has been facing restrictions since 2015, leading to a gradual reduction in flow from India.
Data from the National Revenue Council (NBR) showed that the number of cattle transported informally across borders was 21 million in fiscal 2013-14.
Six years down, the flow dropped 90%. In the fiscal year 2019-20, the number was 2 million, up from 5.42 million the previous year, data from the NBR showed.
The fall fueled beef prices locally, only to encourage farmers to expand into livestock.
“We want to thank the Indian government for helping local livestock grow,” Rahman said.
According to the DLS, there are 6.98 breeders in Bangladesh, up from 3 million in 2015.
“In 2009-10, Bangladesh produced about 13 million tonnes of meat, which increased to over 75 million tonnes in 2019-20,” he said.
He said the government went out of its way to provide education to farmers, teaching them how to raise perfect cattle at a low cost.
“We have already achieved self-sufficiency in meat production and now we are focusing on increasing milk production with high quality breeds,” he added.
Bangladesh produces about 40 million artificial insemination cattle annually, he added.
Abdul Latif, a traditional cattle farmer in Kalihati upazila in Tangail, fattened a bull and put about six cows to milk decades ago.
“But in the last 5 to 6 years, I have started to fatten at least eight bulls a year, as the demand for such bulls has skyrocketed in recent years,” Latif said.
“This year I have fattening 12 medium and large bulls aiming for this Eid,” he said.
Boosted by dairy success stories, Shahidul Islam Razu entered the business three years ago after leaving a government college in the capital. Last year, he sold all 24 of his cattle and earned 7-8 million Tk.
This year, Keraniganj’s Modern Dairy Farm raises 60 cattle. Of these, 40 have already been sold at 50,000 Tk.
“If everything is sold, the total price will be TK 80 million and a profit of over TK 12 million,” Razu said, adding that he was confident his bulls would run out before Eid, as many customers have shown interest in making a purchase from his farm.
However, he said that making an annual profit of only TK 15 million with an investment of TK 80 million was not so profitable for many. Many of the young entrepreneurs in the industry are leaving forever.
“This is because the price of feed is rising every year. It is difficult to survive in this business without the government taking urgent measures to reduce the price of food,” he said.