No beef import: Govt

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Livestock Minister Narayon Chandra Chanda on Wednesday said the government will not allow beef import to save local farmers and beef industry.

He also said the government will take necessary steps to restrict the beef import at any cost.

“I discussed the matter with the Commerce Minister and he has also opined not to import beef,” the Minister said while briefing a press conference at the secretariat.

Narayon Chandra informed the journalists that the country’s annual beef demand is nearly 79 lakh tonnes and the beef production has already reached to 71 lakh tonnes.

“The local farmers will severely suffer and the beef industry will collapse if the beef is imported from abroad,” he said.

“So, we are firmly against the import of foreign beef”, he continued.

“Local farmers as well as the whole industry will be ruined if the import is allowed.” Citing data from the Tariff Commission, the media reported that almost 20 tonnes of beef were imported in fiscal 2016-17.

Frozen beef from India, Australia and Malaysia costs almost half the price of the locally-produced meat, according to media reports.

Replying to a query on the Tariff Commission report, the minister said he was not aware of the matter. In a media briefing last year, the association of Dhaka-based meat traders opposed a plan to import beef from neighbouring India.

They said Indian beef may cost less in the beginning, but gradually it will control the whole market, just like the case of onion.

Selling beef is banned in several states of Hindu-majority India, where cows are considered holy.

India, however, is the second largest beef exporter, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

India does not export cattle and any cross-border cattle trade between India and its neighbouring countries is considered illegal.

However, an estimated two million cows are smuggled into Bangladesh from India annually. Meanwhile, price of beef has dropped by 30-40 taka per kg in the city market as high price of the commodity has curtailed its demand among the consumers.

Few days ago, beef was selling at Tk 490-500 per kg. Now price of beef has dropped to Tk 450-460 in the local market.