Bangladesh won’t accept Brazil’s beef offer without scrutiny, says commerce minister

  • Reazul Bashar and Liton Haider,
    Published: 2019-10-20 00:20:00 BdST

The government will not approve without scrutiny Brazil’s offer to sell beef to Bangladesh in exchange for garment, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi has said amid opposition from local livestock industry leaders.

“There’s no scope for taking a decision without review. The country’s interests come first,” Munshi said in a statement on Saturday.

Tipu Munshi. File Photo

Tipu Munshi. File Photo

Bangladesh currently imports frozen meat from India, Australia and Indonesia, though the livestock farmers and traders say it is unnecessary.

They fear those related to the sector in the rural areas will suffer the most if the government accepts Brazil’s proposal when Bangladesh has already achieved, according to officials, self-sufficiency in meat.

“The rural economy will be affected most if meat import increases, because livestock is a driver of the rural economy,” said M Nazrul Islam, president of Animal Health Companies Association of Bangladesh.     

Women were also involved with livestock farming in villages, he said.

“Bangladesh will become one of the top meat producers in the world soon as in fish and vegetables,” he said adding that beef imports are unnecessary.

Lutfor Rahman, the lessee of the Gabtoli Cattle Market in Dhaka, claimed meat import has caused sales at the market to decline by at least 20 percent.

Import is unnecessary because Bangladesh is sel-sufficient in meat, livestock farmers and traders say.

Import is unnecessary because Bangladesh is sel-sufficient in meat, livestock farmers and traders say.

Annual meat import costs rose threefold in five years to about $2.5 million in 2017-18.

In September, 10 organisations related to the sector held a press conference demanding that frozen beef import be banned to safeguard the local farmers.

Sharif Ahmed Chowdhury, former chief scientific officer of Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute, said at the programme that Bangladesh needs about 7.3 million tonnes meat annually to meet the daily need for 120 gram per head.      

The country produced over 7.5 million tonnes meat from cattle, chicken and duck, he added.

Munshi also admitted that there was no need for import of meat now, praising the government’s efforts to develop the livestock industry.

“Local industries must be protected while signing FTAs with other countries. Efforts are on to sign FTAs for expansion of global trade considering every aspect.”