The Imperative of Introducing Beef Breeds in Bangladesh

Dr. F H Ansarey: Bangladesh produces 87.10 Lakh Metric Ton meat annually against a demand of 76.08 Lakh Metric Ton of which beef accounts for the majority of meat (49.8% of total meat) (Source: Livestock Economy at a Glance 2022-23, Department of Livestock Services – DLS).

However, the high cost of beef in Bangladesh remains a significant concern despite the surplus meat production. The livestock sector plays a crucial role in the country's economy. It contributes 1.85% to the GDP and 16.25% to the agricultural GDP. Hence, the introduction of beef breeds into the country's livestock industry can be a driving factor in reducing beef price. Currently, locally raised cattle, primarily utilized for dairy purposes, have lower Food Conversion Rates (FCR) compared to potential beef breeds. While beef breeds can achieve daily weight gains of 1200-1800 grams, local breeds typically gain only half of this amount.

Besides, beef breeds (high beef genetics) that are more adaptable to our climatic conditions can play a pivotal role in making beef more affordable for consumers. Genetic improvement through crossbreeding for meat, coupled with modern technology adaptation, can significantly enhance the productivity and quality of beef production. Moreover, supporting local farmers and creating initiatives that incentivize them to adopt the new breed and increase production can lead to a more affordable supply of beef.

The government's previous trials with the Brahman breed have shown its popularity among farmers due to its higher meat productivity, lower veterinary costs, and fewer inputs. Such a breed is particularly suitable for smallholder farmers with limited facilities, particularly for women in households who are often the primary caregivers for the cattle. However, interbreeding of beef-breed cattle with milk-producing varieties can be a major challenge and could potentially harm the dairy industry. Fortunately, our farmers are now more aware and skilled, thanks to government and private initiatives. By further educating them on the risks, we can mitigate this challenge. Now, introducing beef breeds in Bangladesh will be a timely intervention to make beef affordable.

President, ACI Agribusinesses Division