Cattle farmers will ask more for sacrificial animals this year as feed prices have escalated by around 46% in just one year. But buyers, already squeezed by spiralling costs of living, will be looking for animals at lower rates.
Farmers are worried that his may push the sacrificial cattle market centering on Eid-ul-Azha to sluggish sales, while prices will be higher.
The dull sales will cast a gloom over the local growing business, which was in dire straits in 2020 and 2021 owing to Covid-led crises. Before the pandemic and the recent price shocks, local cattle growers had been enjoying a booming market. The number of sacrifices, according to the Department of Livestock, had been rising substantially every year until 2019.
The farmers said people will have to spend as much as 25% to 40% for "Qurbani" – a sacrifice in line with the tradition set by the prophet Abraham.
Take for example, Arafat Rubel, owner of Rajshahi's Shaodagor Agro. He will ask for Tk1 lakh this time for a cow weighing three maunds (1 maund equivalent to around 37kg). Arafat said the price was Tk70,000 last year.
"A cow that was priced at Tk60,000 last year will cost at least Tk75,000 this time," Alhaj Sheikh, a cattle grower in Bogura, told The Business Standard.
"Though demand for medium-sized cows has been high for the last couple of years, small cows are likely to be in great demand this year. Tight budgets will force many to switch to goats and lambs from cows," Sheikh commented.
Cattle farmers in Rajshahi, Bogura, Pabna, Kushtia, Rangpur, Brahmanbaria and Chattogram said prices of all inorganic cattle feeds such as "Khoil" (mustard seed waste), "Bhushi" (wheat husk) and "Kura" (paddy husk) have risen by Tk300-Tk500 per sack in the last three months.
According to the Bangladesh Dairy Farmers Association, feeds are responsible for around 66% of livestock farming cost. If farmers get 30% more for their animals this Eid, they will be able to register a profit.
Mohammad Asaduzzaman, manager of an agro-farm in Rajshahi, said the firm has sold seven cows weighing five maund each for Eid. Even with a 30% price hike, the farm profited by Tk10,000-Tk12,000 per animal, as last year's margin was Tk15,000.
"Many people may turn to small cows, goats and sheep this time as the rise in commodity prices will not allow them to spend more on big cows. We already feel the impact on the cattle market," Mohammad Imran Hossain, president of the Bangladesh Dairy Farmers Association, told TBS.
However, Monjur Mohammad Shahjada, director general of the Department of Livestock, disagreed with Imran.
He said people have made a turnaround from the Covid crisis, and as such the number of sacrifices will increase this year. "Even if prices go up a little, people certainly will sacrifice animals for religious reasons."
The livestock department says there are around 1.21 crore animals in the country, including cows, goats and lambs, for Eid sacrifices this year.
Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim said there is no need to import sacrificial animals from abroad as the country has a sufficient number of animals for Eid.
"Many agro farms have gone online, which has freed customers of different hassles. Our target is to sell 25% of the total number of sacrificial animals this year through digital platforms," he added.
[The Business Standard Rajshahi, Bogura, Mymensingh, Rangpur and Brahmanbaria correspondents contributed to the report.]