Steps proposed by dairy farmers to reduce beef price

  • Focus on breed development for cost-efficient meat production
  • Cultivating improved grass and making silage to reduce feed imports
  • Selling cattle hides at fair prices to impact beef prices positively
  • Lowering rent charges and toll rates at cattle markets
  • Developing beef processing sector for global meat by-products market

The Bangladesh Dairy Farmers’ Association (BDFA) has announced selling beef in Dhaka at a price Tk50 lower than the current market rate per kilogram starting today, aiming to make beef more affordable for the public and provide some relief to commoners struggling with high food prices.

Dairy farmers declared their commitment to lowering the price of beef on Sunday, following a workshop organised at the National Press Club by the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection in association with the Daily Farmers’ Association. The workshop was arranged to discuss the necessary steps to bring down beef prices.

Speaking on behalf of the association, its President Md Imran Hossain told the event, “We want to reduce the price of beef for consumers. Starting from tomorrow (Monday), our farmers will sell beef at a price Tk50 less than the prevailing market rate.”

He further explained, “We aim to ease the burden on consumers by reducing the price of beef, particularly during times of inflation. As a first step, our farmers will sell beef at a Tk50 discount.”

According to information from the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the current market rate for beef in Dhaka ranges between Tk750 and Tk780 per kilogram.

It is worth noting that dairy farmers usually sell a significant portion of beef online, where it is priced even higher, ranging from Tk800 to Tk850 per kilogram. The reduced price announced by the association is not intended for retailers in Dhaka’s traditional markets.

Nonetheless, dairy farmers argue that if the price of beef decreases at the farm level, it will inevitably lead to a reduction in retail prices as well.

‘It’s possible to reduce beef price to Tk500-550 a kg’

At the event, Dairy Farmers’ Association President Imran Hossain argued that the price of beef can be reduced to Tk500-550 a kg by implementing seven steps in the short term, medium term, and long term.

The first step involves focusing on breed development, which can potentially lead to a 20%-25% reduction in beef prices.

According to the keynote paper, a maximum of 120-150 kg of meat can be obtained from a two-year-old cow of indigenous varieties such as the Red Chittagong Cattle, North Bengal, Gray, and Sahiwal. On the other hand, a meat breed like Brahman can yield up to 250-300 kg of meat at the same age, resulting in reduced production costs.

A native breed of cattle requires 12-13 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of meat, while Brahman only needs 5-6 kg of feed to produce the same amount of meat, the paper adds.

The issue of importing feed ingredients for the cattle was also addressed. The recommendation suggests that by locally cultivating improved grass and making silage, dependency on expensive imports can be reduced, thus leading to a decrease in meat prices.

Furthermore, it was proposed to produce high-quality cattle fodder using by-products of crops such as rice straw, maize stalks, branches of various trees, and banana plants. Farmers could be trained on how to prepare this low-cost alternative feed instead of relying on grain feed, which would positively impact the price of meat, suggested Imran.

The dairy farmers’ leader also touched upon the need to sell cattle hides at fair prices.

Currently, rawhide worth Tk4,000-5,000 is sold for only Tk300-400, he noted, adding that if fair prices are ensured for cattle rawhides, beef prices could be reduced by Tk30-40 per kg.

The recommendation suggests that if the excess leather that is not utilized domestically can be exported according to the rules, it can also contribute to reducing beef prices.

Market prices for beef are highlighted as a significant factor affecting beef prices. The rent for cows has increased from a fixed amount to a percentage-based system, which has raised the cost for farmers. To reduce the immediate impact on the price of meat, it is proposed to lower the amount of rent charged.

Speaking on this point, AHM Shafikuzzaman, director general of the consumer rights protection directorate, said 10 million pieces of cattle rawhide are produced in the county every year, and only 1 million of them can be used by local leather industries.

Fair prices of cattle rawhide can be ensured if the remaining 9 million pieces of rawhide are exported under the legal framework.

High rates of toll at cattle markets are having a major impact on beef prices, according to Imran. He pointed out that previously, one had to pay Tk50-100 to market authorities for a cow worth Tk1,00,000. However, the toll rate has now been raised to 5% of the cattle’s price, resulting in Tk5,000 being charged for a Tk1,00,000 cow.

Imran emphasised that if the toll rate can be reduced, the price of beef will immediately come down. Additionally, he suggested that by developing the physical processing sector of beef, it is possible to capture the global market for meat by-products.

Furthermore, the keynote paper highlighted the potential impact of creating farmers’ markets on the price of beef.

AHM Shafikuzzaman said, “We have some policy problems. We are giving high priority to milk production, meat comes second. But, we should balance increasing milk and meat production.”

He also mentioned that a comprehensive review of short, medium, and long-term measures is necessary to reduce the price of meat at the consumer level. The results of this review will be presented as recommendations to the relevant ministries and government departments.

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