A massive move comes of late for manufacturing livestock medicines locally as overdependence on import pushes up production cost and meat and chicken prices as evident from the current market waywardness.

The local producers have only a 12-percent supply capacity now, officials said Thursday, thus leaving the vast sector to the importers of vaccines for livestock and poultry.

The Department of Livestock Services (DLS) is going to take a project for the manufacture of the vaccines for the livestock population, they said.

As per the initiative, the department would enhance the vaccine-production capacity of the Livestock Research Institute (LRI), which meets only 11-12 per cent of the demand.

“The LRI has a small capacity. Bangladesh needs to import huge vaccines from overseas markets. So, we want to improve the production capacity,” says a senior Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MoFL) official.

He says the imported vaccines sometimes cannot control the circulating pathogens. “We need homegrown vaccines.”

The official said the DLS has taken up a project to study feasibility for the planned vaccine-production- enhancement programme. The feasibility project, styled ‘Modernization of LRI’, costs Tk 173.04 million.

Finding out the viability of local vaccine enhancement and the way forward with the planned vaccine- production-enhancement programme will be determined based on the study output.

Currently, the LRI produces 320 million vaccines, only 12 per cent of the total demand in Bangladesh, DLS data shows, leaving the vast vacuum to importers to do the business.

According to the DLS, Bangladesh has some 432.38-million-member livestock population in greater definition of the term, including poultry birds, ducks, goat, and cattle, as of last fiscal year (2021-22).

Of the total population, some 56.73 million are cattle, buffaloes, sheep, and goats, and 375.64 million poultry.

Local livestock-and poultry-sector entrepreneurs said they have to pay huge money to the vaccine importers every year as they are not getting adequate supply locally.

Bangladesh’s livestock and poultry production has grown at an impressive rate over the last few years and the demand for medicines is growing fast.

The gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate from livestock in Bangladesh was 3.10 per cent in the FY2022. The contribution of livestock to the GDP was 1.90 per cent, the DLS data show.

A senior official at the MoFL told the FE that the private sector in Bangladesh has a very small capacity in vaccine production, resulting in huge requirement of imported vaccines.

“If Bangladesh can enhance its vaccine-manufacturing capacity in keeping with the local varieties of livestock and poultry, it will be more effective,” he says about prospect of the project in the vital sub-sector of agriculture.

The LRI has a vaccine plant at Mohakhali and Biologics, and the Applied Research facility in Cumilla can now manufacture the veterinary vaccines which could meet some 12 per cent of total local demand, the official adds.

The country needs to import nearly US$47 million worth of vaccines for poultry and livestock annually, local importers said.

Out of the imports, the private sector imports nearly $25 million worth of vaccine for poultry sector and the public sector $20 million.

Besides, the private sector imports another $2-3 million worth of vaccine for other livestock like goat, buffalo etc.

President of ACI Agro Business Dr FH Ansari told the FE that the private sector kept key role in importing vaccine for the poultry birds while the government imports the vaccine for cattle.

“If the government wants to set up more plants for enhancing its vaccine-production capacity, it needs to invest a good amount of funds for research and development,” he added.

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