The government is considering putting cattle import on the list of prohibited items for the sake of local livestock industry.

Sources said commerce ministry recently wrote to the department of livestock services (DLS), seeking opinion on imposing a ban on cow, buffalo and goat imports.

The DSL has put forward its view to fisheries and livestock ministry for sending the observation to commerce ministry, according to officials.

The import of cattle like cow, buffalo and goat, the DLS fears, will mostly affect the developing domestic meat market.

Even trans-boundary zoonotic diseases like foot-and-mouth disease, peste des petits ruminants (PPR) or ovine rinderpest, anthrax, bovine spongiform encephalopathy or mad cow disease, avian flu, tuberculosis, brucellosis, trypanosomiasis, salmonella and E. coli may enter Bangladesh only to put public and animal health at risk.

But the DLS has suggested importing different types of high-quality semen and embryo at private level only for the sake of cattle breed development after taking the National Technical Regulatory Committee’s approval.

Cattle are not being imported from neighbouring India and Myanmar for the last couple of years, thanks to the country’s self-sufficiency in livestock production.

The DLS is working tirelessly to increase the production of meat, milk and eggs with an eye to meeting the rising demand of people for animal meat.

The department under the livestock ministry is expected to sit at commerce ministry later this month with intent to devise strategies.

Since 2001, the country has achieved self-sufficiency in the production of meat and eggs through multiple measures taken by the incumbent government.

Currently, local meat and meat products are being exported to different countries on a limited scale.

An estimated 20-million people and 0.5-million families are directly and indirectly involved in cattle rearing activities in the country.

In addition, educated but unemployed youth have engaged themselves in meat production by rearing cattle in the last seven years.

The livestock ministry has taken initiatives to increase production through breed development under multiple projects to accelerate milk and meat output.

It has started disease-free zoning programme through PPR eradication and rabies control project as per the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) guideline.

Meanwhile, local livestock farmers have welcomed the state move to put cattle import on the prohibition list as it would help the domestic industry to grow further.

According to them, the meat market is stable as local producers can amply meet the domestic demand.

Bangladesh is now self-sufficient in meat production, a source said. But it spent nearly $2.5 million in fiscal year 2017-18 to import the item from 14 countries.

Some luxury hotels and food chains import meat, the source added.

Bangladesh produced more than 9.3-million tonnes of meat in FY2022 against an annual demand for nearly 7.5-million tonnes, disclosed the DLS data.

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