Extortion hits traders on the way

Faruque Ahmed
The cattle markets for sacrificial animals in the city and all over the country are overcrowded by big bulls and goats and the like that people have fattened them throughout the year. The brisk buy and sell will continue till the morning of Eid Day festival.
Indian cattle have been barred from entry to the country at this time to allow local farmers to get fair price of their animals. But the presence of Indian and Myanmar cattle in the market amply suggest influential people are taking such animals ignoring the government ban.
In two Dhaka City Corporation areas over 24 cattle markets have been leased while local influential people at many areas have set up illegal markets.
Goons and their agents are forcing cattle traders to stop their herd at their market to benefit from huge fees to be collected against sales of their animals. This is almost a common scenario all over the country.
Cattle laden trucks started to arrive in the city markets from early last week. Traders are also taking truck loaded with animals to other districts and local markets amidst overt and covert extortions by local goons and their influential political mentors.
Police are also reportedly harassing traders demanding extortions. At many places traders have been forced to pay around Tk 5,000 per truck to secure freedom of movement. One has to pay at several places to add to the cost of animals buyers have to pay at the end.
Risk of cheating with counterfeit currency notes is very high at this time. The government has deployed huge contingent of RAB, Police and Ansars to watch the markets with CC cameras all over.
Banks have opened booths at big markets and providing fake note identifying machine to stop cheating. Executive magistrates have been put on work to maintain law and order.
Cattle fattening has become one of the growing household business throughout the country in the past several years. It initially started from scarcity of enough local sacrificial animals when Bangladesh were to source bulk of the animals from across the border in India.
Few years back the BJP government in Delhi put ban on selling cattle to Bangladesh. One Indian minister retorted at that time saying they will force Bangladesh nationals to buy meat at Tk 700 to 800 per kg as cost of slaughtering cattle. Its fattening in the country started to gain ground from that time to become a popular household business soon.
The Indian government banned the export of cattle on the ground of saving the ‘mother cows’ from being slaughtered. It is not clear whether or not they have been able to protect cows, but the measure came to Bangladesh as a disguised blessing.
Now the country is self-sufficient in growing enough cattle herd to meet local demand including the peak season demand for Eid-ul-Azha celebration. Over 1.10 crore sacrificial animals are available this time in the country including 77 lakhs bulls, some estimates suggest.
Bangladesh is already exporting meat in limited quantity and the way local breeding and fattening continues to grow, meat export may emerge prominently soon in the country’s list of exports.
But what is causing tension to local farmers is uncertainty about getting fair price for their animals. Despite huge local supply, cattle are entering Bangladesh to cause overcrowding in the market.
Cattle are coming from India and Myanmar and local farmers are under pressure to sell at low cost or to fail to get the desired high price. Most farmers have reared animals using loan money from banks and other sources and a market below expectation is bound to crush their dream for the year of making a handful of profit. 08.08.2019

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