Beef, mutton prices hold firm

Dhaka,  Mon,  25 September 2017
Published : 15 Mar 2017, 00:19:30 | Updated : 15 Mar 2017, 10:14:29

Hiked beef, mutton prices show no sign of abatement, hitting consumers countrywide

Beef, mutton prices hold firm
Yasir Wardad

Prices of beef and mutton still remain exorbitant in the city markets as elsewhere in the country, badly affecting consumers of the fixed income group.

Soaring prices of meat have also pushed up retail prices of other substitutes prompting the limited income people to cut their protein in take, experts said.

The prices of meat started increasing from February last following a week-long strike called by meat retailers following a row with lease holders of the Gabtoli cattle market in the city.

Though the retailers halted their strike, the prices of meat have remained high and this is also reflected in other markets across the country, according to sources.

However, traders said lesser import, supply shortage of local cattle and lower prices of skins were some major reasons behind the hike in prices of meat.

They said higher taxes on animal trading, extortions during transportation and anomalies in providing licences to retailers are also responsible for the surge.

Beef prices jumped by around 22 per cent to Tk 500 in major cities in last one month.

Mutton prices too surged by 18 per cent to Tk 800 a kg, according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the government's trading arm.

Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM) data showed the hike at 16 to 28.6 per cent at the village level.

Beef is selling at Tk 450-Tk 480 a kg in Rangpur region now as against Tk 350-Tk 380 earlier.

However, higher prices of beef and mutton raised prices of chicken and fish, TCB and DAM data showed.

Prices of farm chicken, the cheapest source of protein, increased by 15 per cent and different kinds of fish by 16 to 25 per cent in last one and a half months.

Farm chicken is now selling at Tk 155-Tk 160 (broiler) a kg and Tk 180-Tk 190 (layer) a kg, according to TCB.

Consumers' Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Secretary Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan said poor people in the country bear the brunt of high inflationary pressure.

Prices of most essentials including rice, meat and fish increased significantly in last six months, he said.

The sky-rocketing prices of beef, mutton and chicken have led to protein deficiency of low-income group further, he said.

Dr Sharmin Rumi Alim at the Institute of Nutrition and Food Science under Dhaka University said the country's per head daily intake of protein is only 26 gram with a deficiency of 42 gram.

She said increase in prices of meat and fish might hit the fixed income group while women and children suffer the most.   

However, import of cattle has witnessed a record low in the current calendar year causing surge in prices, said traders.

Md Mujibur Rahman, a leading cattle trader (Bepari) in Gabtoli told the FE that supply of imported animals has declined nearly by 70 per cent in 2017 than that of 2016.

He said traders sell above 3,000 cows a day at Gabtoli of which Indian animals are 1,200-1,400. The number declined to 250-300.

He said import cost of an ox, weighing 90-100 kilogram is now Tk 50,000-Tk 52,000 which was Tk 40,000-Tk 42,000 even during last Eid-ul-Azha when demand surged by 20 times.

Custom Superintendent in Lalmonirhat Md Alaluddin told the FE that cattle import remains halted through the Burimari land port for the last two years amid strong barriers put up by the Indian authorities against export.     

Officials in different land ports in the country, however, said import through informal channels also decreased significantly amid killings of Bangladeshi traders by the Indian border security force.

Md Anwar Hossain, another trader at Gabtoli said supply of local cattle has also been reduced by 25-30 per cent as farm owners are stocking animals eyeing windfall profits in the upcoming Ramadan and Eid.

He said extortion is also causing hike in animal prices as a trader has to pay additional Tk 8,000-Tk 10,000 per animal.

Bangladesh Meat Merchants Association (BMMA) President Golam Martuza Montu pointed out that most of the traders in the city are forced to pay Tk 2,500-Tk 3,500 taxes per cow against government- fixed Tk 50.

According to the Department of Livestock Service (DLS), the country needs more than 6.5 million cows annually for consumption when domestic supply is 5.6 to 5.8 million.
Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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