Professor Dr. M. A. Hashem
Budget FY2020-21 should attempt to recognize the critical role of livestock sector in dairying, beef cattle fattening, small ruminants and poultry sectors. Due to the on-going Covid-19 catastrophe and Amphan destruction in coastal regions Government should have some action plan in the proposed budget for boosting this sector and farmers income.
Livestock is one of the important sectors for generating employment, empowering the rural women and helping augment farmer’s income. Crop production generates employment in rural workforce for 90 to 120 days in a year; on the other hand, the livestock sector plays a major role in providing alternative employment opportunities for them throughout the year (LMIS, India).
Following recommendations are made for the proposed budget for livestock sector in Bangladesh:
- Government should increase total budget in livestock sector at least 30% than the previous year.
- Need to increase milk processing capacity both by the Milk Vita and other private sectors. This will have an impact on building of village level dairy infrastructure, increasing milk procurement, manufacturing the milk products and enhancing marketing capacities. It will also encourage the small, private and cooperative players to manufacture high quality value added dairy products as per international standards. The move to enhance processing capacity will create job market.
- Need to increase the coverage of artificial insemination in cattle from 30% to 70%. We should have national genetic up-gradation program covering all breeds of bovines to produce replacement heifer and fattening calves for milk and meat using high quality seeds.
- Need to ensure adequate green fodder to be available throughout the year to the farmers of dairy, beef and small ruminant. The availability of feeds and fodder remains a major concern. The deficit in the requirement and availability of dry fodder, green fodder and concentrates to the extent of 21%, 26% and 34%, respectively, which is likely to increase to 23%, 40% and 38%, respectively, by 2025 in India but in case of our country may exist same scenarios.
- The elimination of FMD and Brucellosis is also important and it loss in livestock sector is huge. This would reduce the burden of health expenditure on animal in the farm households, increase milk and meat production and enhance the export potential of the livestock industry. We need to vaccinate more and every animal each year.
- The proposal of reducing tax on livestock related business from 30% 20% will help to enhance business activities. Need to increase import duties from 30% to 40% dairy products to boost domestic production.
- The incentives on transportation of livestock and it products in the deficit regions and during natural catastrophic loss like Amphan should be ensured.
- Formulate a livestock trade law and registered farmers union to market their products at competitive price to anyone who is offering a better price whether on an electronic platform or in physical trade.
- Need to ensure export of red meat, poultry meat and egg even offering some subsidies. Six to seven million employees will be benefited from this sector if foreign market can be ensured.
- Govt should van on frozen meat import for promoting local production and saving foreign currency. Bangladesh is self sufficient in meat production as per DLS statistics but spent nearly US$2.5 million in the fiscal year 2017-18 to import meat products from 14 countries. Some luxury hotels and food chains import the meat.
- Meat production is intimately linked with quality leather production but this sector needs special attention for exporting finished and wet blue hides and skin.
- Need to set up more modern slaughterhouse to facilitate and supply domestic consumption and export. Deboned meat having pH below 6 where no FMD virus can survive. That is why we need to create chilling and freezing facilities for hygienic meat production and consumption.
The budget measures are expected to bring in more investment in livestock sector to achieving SDG goals of Government. These would support revival of the rural economy and meet up the nutritional security of the mass if considered in the proposed budget for implementation.
(Writer is Professor in the Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Animal Husbandry of Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh.)