Ducks have emerged as a new export item, with expatriate Bangladeshis being the main buyers.
Bengal Meat, which has been exporting beef and mutton for long, is now exporting ducks to the Maldives. It started exporting the birds to the island nation in 2018.
It is the only company in Bangladesh that exports ducks. It exports 1,000-1,200 kilograms of ducks to the Maldives every year.
Its Chief Executive Officer AFM Asif told The Business Standard that export figures are still very low.
Apart from producing ducks, Bengal Meat also collects the bird from various farms. It exports ducks after processing, which includes removing their feathers.
The company's commercial and export head AKM Syedul Haq Bhuyan said the company had faced some problems initially but successfully overcome them.
He said 200-300 kilogrammes of ducks are exported in each container.
"Although the export figure is very small, we are exporting ducks and that is a positive sign," he said.
Syedul also said the firm had not received any orders from foreign buyers yet.
"We are capable of supplying ducks if we get orders. As duck farms are growing in the country, exports will not be a problem if there is demand," he explained.
He further said duck meat production depends on the season and increases in winter.
"Meat quality also remains good in winter. The demand for duck meat is low in other seasons. Demand falls dramatically in summer. We sell 20 tonnes of duck meat in winter in the local market."
Although duck meat is delicious, many avoid it due to complexities in its processing. Removing feathers is a time-consuming job. However, the demand for duck meat is increasing at winter get-togethers and parties.
Ready-to-cook duck is now sold at various superstores and its availability has increased consumption. Official statistics on duck consumption are, however, not available.
According to the Department of Livestock Services, ducks account for around 16% of the country's total poultry production while chickens hold the remaining 84% share.
In the last five years, duck production has increased by around 15%. The annual production growth is around 3%.
In 2015-16, 522.40 lakh ducks were produced. The figure increased to 597.17 lakh in fiscal year 2019-20.
There are 8,086 registered and 500-600 non-registered duck farms in the country.
Registered farms are divided into three categories. Farms rearing 1,001-3,000 ducks belong to the first category while second and third category farms rear 3,001-5,000 and over 5,000 ducks respectively.
Farms rearing fewer than 1,000 ducks are not registered.
Deputy Director (farms) of the Department of Livestock Services Dr ABM Khaleduzzaman said the number of duck farms and the demand for duck meat have gradually been increasing in the country.
Duck farming in domestic settings is prevalent in remote areas, but commercial farming has been increasing in different parts of the country over the last few years. Young people are also taking an interest in duck farming as it requires small capital. Duck rearing in winter is increasing in the lowlands or haors.
The native duck population comes in the categories of Indigenous Non-descript, Deshi White, Deshi Black, Nageshwari, Sylhet Mete, etc. Improved natives, such as BLRI 1 and BLRI 2, are developed by the Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute.
Exotic ducks, such as Khaki Campbell, Indian Runner, Jending, Muscovy, White Pekin, Cherry Valley and Thailand Black are also produced in the country.
Bird dealers at Kaptan Bazar and other markets in the capital say ducks mostly come from haor areas and northern districts, especially Kishoreganj, Netrokona, Sunamganj, Naogaon, Rangpur and Dinajpur.
Global market of duck meat production
According to Global Trade Magazine in the US, the global duck and goose meat market revenue amounted to $19 billion in 2018.
The market value increased at an average annual rate of 2.1% over the period from 2007 to 2018.
With 55 lakh tonnes per year, China remains the largest duck and goose meat consuming country worldwide, accounting for 76% of total consumption. Duck and goose meat consumption increased in the East Asian country at an average annual rate of 2.2% over the period from 2007 to 2018.
France is the second largest duck and goose meat consuming country. Its annual consumption is 203,000 tonnes.
The third position is occupied by Myanmar (174,000 tonnes) with a 2.4% share.