For foreign cattle business no border restrictions apply
LOCAL cattle markets in Rajshahi are flooded with Indian cattle heads amidst the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Owners of the local cattle farmers are disappointed over the sale of their livestock as Eid-ul-Azha is knocking at the door. They demanded to stop the import of Indian cattle. In the Rajshahi City Haat, a big cattle market in the northern region, huge Indian sacrificial animals were brought on Monday. The Indian cattle heads price is less than that of the local ones. And everyday the price is falling.
Unfortunately we all know the main reason why. The cattle smuggling at the border areas has acted as a catalyst to the West Bengal cattle growers. According to the 20th Livestock Census held recently in India the total number of cattle grew by over 23 per cent in West Bengal -- the highest rate in India. What is interesting is that it occurred in only seven years --from 2012 to 2019.
This itself speaks volumes about the illegal cattle trade which has given a boost to crimes like money laundering and gold smuggling because most of the payments are done through informal channels. It has helped to trigger trans-border criminal activities because such networks are also used for other kinds of smuggling like gold and others. Cattle smuggling has prevented the growth of the indigenous cattle industry in Bangladesh.
The growth of the cattle industry could help us to not only enhance our meat industry but also facilitate the growth of export-oriented industries like processed meat and leather, a move that will contribute to diversification. One easy way to discourage cattle smuggling is to generate employment opportunities in the bordering areas. This will discourage the unemployed youth in our border areas from joining the smuggling network and risking their lives and limbs to the wrath of the BSF.
As long we legally allow anyone to bring in cows from India on the legal pretext that the cattle were roaming around the boundary the smuggling will continue. Stopping this is the only way our cattle farmers will be able to make some money on the hard business of raising cows for sale. Either way the government will have to become serious about stopping the informal cattle trade. It must stop giving the trade any legal grounds to exist.