Importance of Livestock in Bangladesh

Md. Abu Abdullah:The livestock sector plays an important role in our economy. It can solve the problems of malnutrition, unemployment, empowerment of women, growth of fertility of agricultural land, making the talented nation and earning foreign exchange. Meat, egg, and milk play a vital role to meet the demands of food of animal origin in our everyday life. Under Article 18 (1) of our Constitution says, “The state shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties.”

The Department of Livestock Services reported that the contribution of livestock in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Bangladesh is 1.47% with a GDP growth rate of livestock at 3.47%. Approximately, 20% of the people in the country are directly engaged with the livestock sector.

Currently there are estimated to be 24,540,000 cattle 1,500,000 buffalo, 3,679,000 sheep and 25,604,000 goats and 365,852,000 poultry being raised by livestock keepers. The livestock population has been growing steadily over the past thirty years. Bangladesh is self-sufficient in meat and eggs and has an exportable surplus for each of these livestock products. Milk self-sufficiency is well on the way with a growing trend in the level of dairy production.

Livestock resources have been playing an important role in the development of human civilization. Livestock production is an integral component of the rural life and economy of Bangladesh. Livestock plays a significant role in traditional farming, supply of food of animal origin, and extensive employment generation. Now a day’s government and private sector are working together to meet the demands of adequate and safe meat, milk, and egg of the country. The overall agricultural sector is working hand in hand to achieve the sustainable development goal declared by United Nations.

The majority of livestock producers in Bangladesh are engaged in mixed smallholder enterprises, growing crops and raising livestock for home consumption as well as for the sale of any surplus products locally.  Where access to services and inputs as well as marketing facilities are often very limited.

However, there is rapidly growing number of farmers, especially in close to urban areas are now investing in semi-commercial or full-scale- commercial enterprises, especially in the poultry industry. Similarly, many farmers have also started to specialize in small to medium-scale dairy farming as well as raising cattle and small ruminants for meat production, in response to a growing demand for meat and milk. A very few large-scale commercial dairy farms have also now been established.

Since the eighties contribution of livestock sector is increasing day by day, an opportunity of employment, the number of commercial farm and production of livestock increased surprisingly.

Production of meat, milk, and egg in 1971-72 was five lakh metric ton, ten lakh metric ton and 150 crores respectively, which has increased in 76.74 metric ton,106.80 metric ton and 1736 crore in 2019-20.

The demand for animal-origin food is increasing due to rapid economic development, reduction of hardcore poor, and health consciousness among the people in the country. Every year first June, World Milk Day is celebrated, in the country to create nutrition awareness among people. Although the milk production in the country is far behind the demand of the country. Now it is an urgent need to remove barriers and support this sub-sector to meet the demand of the country.

Since 2013, the second Friday of October is observed as World Egg Day in the country, with the patronization of the World Egg Commission. The demand for sacrificial livestock of Eid ul Fitr in the country is fulfilled by the country's supply.

Now we need to increase the supply of meat, milk, and egg to mitigate the supply of food of animal origin at a rapid speed. Therefore, we need to follow science-based modern technology to upgrade breed development and give adequate coverage to animal health. Supply of feed and fodder at affordable prices around the year is essential for smooth growth in this sector.

Animal disease diagnosis, disease surveillance, and treatment of anthrax, novel coronavirus, bird flu, swain flu, Ebola virus, SARS, MERS, zoonotic avian and human influenza, nipa virus, rabies should get more public attention. To protect our livestock and food items, we must take more protective measures, by monitoring the activities of 24 quarantine stations of the country. These surveillance activities could be effective through strengthening digitization of information, e-livestock services, livestock support mobile apps, and software-based reporting activities.

The production and distribution of vaccines needed to be more organized to curb and treatment of infectious diseases. Treatment facilities of livestock and poultry need to reach out to the doorsteps of remote areas farmers. We have to ensure the supply of quality and standard medicine at the same time. Awareness about the dangers of urging medication without the prescription of a veterinarian, especially the need to raise awareness about the dangers of using antibiotics and the effects of Anti-microbial Resistance.

World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Food and Agriculture Organisation, and World Health Organisation have joined hands in developing a "One Health" approach towards the development of standards and guidelines to help member countries to ensure human health, animal health, and environmental protection. The implementation of these standards relies on the close collaboration of all stakeholders having an interest or part play along each of the livestock and food value chains from the “Farm to Fork”.

Transportation of animals to slaughterhouses or markets is carried out informally, Animal Disease Act or Animal Welfare Act provisions are not properly enforced. Most of the time animal slaughtering also took place in a very informal manner. Establishment of the modern slaughterhouses is now the demand of the time. While there are some good ones are operating in big cities, we need to establish more modern slaughterhouses across the country.
New diseases and pathogens can enter through imported or locally produced food of animal origin, and seeds, embryos, parent stock eggs in the country. We need to control the spread of harmful chemicals, biochemicals molecules, and other possible threats by maintaining strict quality control based on science and good practices.

A modern quality control laboratory has been established in Savar, near Dhaka for livestock and poultry-related services. This laboratory has earned ISO 17025-2015 standard accreditation from Bangladesh Accreditation Board in 2021.

The laboratory can test the quality of adolescents' breeding materials, food of animal origin, pesticides chemicals, fertilizers, mycotoxins, hormones, antibiotics, formalin, melamine, dyes, bacteria, anthrax, tuberculosis, salmonella, E. coli, and seventy other tests.

Any government-non government organizations, livestock, and poultry farm owner can test their sample from there by paying fees.

Department of livestock services has taken the Livestock and Dairy Development Project to modernize the sector with 4280 crore takas funded by the World Bank. Some components of this project will be implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization to upgrade the sector as per international standards.

Due to the sudden attack of Covid19 livestock sector of Bangladesh suffered a great loss. Every small and big farm has suffered deeply, for break down of their supply chain and sales. Weak supply and sales systems are the main weakness to flourish livestock and poultry sector, even at the normal time. Bangladesh Dairy Farmers Association claimed that nearly 12 million liters of milk were unsold at the very outset of pandemics. Other producer’s association also claimed their losses at the same time. Therefore, ensuring a good supply chain system is the prerequisite to the success of the sector.

Development of livestock resources depends on veterinary health services, support services, supply of biological products, quality production inputs, extension services, prevention and control and treatment of disease, and cooperation between private and public sectors. The government and the private sector have taken various initiatives to increase productivity and artificial insemination system to raise the standard of this sector. Gradually this sector is moving towards science-based modern commercial trade and industry.
Alongside the public sector livestock services, there is a rapidly emerging demand for private veterinary services. The expansion of veterinary education has been expanded in different parts of the country from diploma to graduation and post-graduation level. It is reported that there are currently more than 5000 veterinarians registered with Bangladesh Veterinary Council. Many of them are now employed directly by the dairy and poultry farms. There are also a large number of veterinary paraprofessionals providing veterinary services in this emerging sector.

Now we need to provide training on poultry and animal husbandry, treatment, and improved animal farming to the youth, landless small farmers, and small farm owners to create employment opportunities and enhance productivity in this sector. Better marketing facilities and commercial production are key elements to flourish in this sector. If we can give proper policy support, our rural economy will flourish manifold.

Writer:Former Additional Secretary,  Govt. of Bangladesh
Former Director General  Bangladesh Accreditation Board
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